PRESS RELEASE

Update on the euro cash changeover

9 January 2002

The introduction of the euro banknotes and coins is progressing very well. By 8 January 2002 more than 2 billion EUR 5 banknotes, more than 2 billion EUR 10 banknotes and close to 2 billion EUR 20 banknotes had already been issued. The return of national currencies is increasing as expected. The total value of national banknotes in circulation declined further by 4.8% to EUR 210.1 billion, that is to say from EUR 220.7 billion on 7 January. By the end of the week, it is expected that almost all cash transactions will be processed in euro, so most of the euro cash changeover will thus have been completed.

The European Central Bank will today release the euro progress ratio – the EPR – which can be used to monitor the progress of the euro cash changeover. The ratio calculates the value of euro banknotes in circulation divided by the total value of euro and national banknotes in circulation. It provides an indication of the rate of substitution of national banknotes by euro banknotes, and should not be assimilated with figures on the number of transactions processed in euro. It should be noted that the relatively high value of national banknotes still in circulation is explained to a certain extent by the time required for the return of national banknotes from users via credit institutions to their respective national central banks.

On 1 January 2002, the EPR stood at 33%, so 33% of the banknotes in circulation in terms of value were euro banknotes, and this reached 45.5% on 8 January 2002.

In order to meet cash needs outside the euro area, the frontloading of euro banknotes to national central banks and credit institutions in third countries started on 1 December 2001. Frontloading orders placed by 26 central banks and banks located outside the euro area, mainly in central and eastern Europe, the Mediterranean region and Africa, amounted to some EUR 4 billion.

Dr. Willem F. Duisenberg, President of the European Central Bank, said that "We are pleased that countries outside the euro area with a high circulation of legacy currencies are also coping well with the euro cash changeover".

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