PRESS RELEASE

Biannual information on the counterfeiting of the euro

16 July 2003

In the first half of 2003, 230,534 counterfeit euro banknotes were removed from circulation. (This figure includes recoveries from both euro area and non-euro area countries.) This compares with the 145,153 counterfeits removed in the previous six-month period. As expected, the number of euro counterfeits has increased since the banknotes were first introduced. However, over recent months, the rate of this increase has begun to level off, in particular because of the successful work by the police. Although the number of counterfeits is very small, given that there are around 8 billion genuine banknotes in circulation, the public is encouraged to remain vigilant.

The breakdown of counterfeits by denomination for the first half of 2003 is shown below:

€5 €10 €20 €50 €100 €200 €500 Total
Quantity 844 2,543 54,285 152,072 14,839 5,516 435 230,534
Percentage 0.3 1.1 23.5 66.0 6.5 2.4 0.2 100

According to the European Commission , the number of counterfeit coins has remained low. The European Commission is responsible for statistical reporting on coin activity.

Background

The European System of Central Banks has adopted a co-ordinated, decentralised approach to combating counterfeiting of euro banknotes and coins. The European Central Bank (ECB) has set up a Counterfeit Analysis Centre for banknotes to co-ordinate the work of the National Analysis Centres in each Member State. In 2001 the ECB concluded a co-operation agreement with Europol to combat counterfeiting and it is now negotiating similar agreements with Interpol and the central banks of the ten EU acceding countries.

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