Design competition for the first series of euro banknotes

Robert Kalina, designer of the euro banknotes, at work at the Oesterreichische Nationalbank in Vienna

The European Monetary Institute, the forerunner of the ECB, launched a design competition in February 1996. It attracted 44 design proposals which were anonymised to make the selection as objective as possible.

In September that year a jury of 14 independent experts in marketing, advertising, design and art history appraised the designs and drew up two shortlists: one consisted of five series of designs based on the "ages and styles of Europe" and the other consisted of five series of "modern/abstract" designs.

EOS (European Omnibus Survey) Gallup Europe was then asked to carry out a survey on public reactions to the shortlisted designs. Using a detailed questionnaire, it interviewed two groups of people – members of the public and professional cash handlers – who examined all ten design series. Altogether, some 2,000 people across Europe were surveyed.

The Council of the European Monetary Institute selected the winning design series in December 1996 on the basis of the jury’s findings and the results of the survey. The winning series was the work of Robert Kalina, a banknote designer from the Oesterreichische Nationalbank in Vienna.

Documents relating to the banknote design and the competition:

  • Report of the Theme Selection Advisory Group, May 1995, ENGLISH
  • Report of the Feature Selection Advisory Group, 1995, ENGLISH
  • Designers’ Design Brief (extract), February 1996, ENGLISH
  • Appendix 2 to the Design Brief, February 1996, ENGLISH
  • Public research report on the shortlisted designs, December 1996, ENGLISH
  • De-coding table for the public research report on the shortlisted designs, December 1996, ENGLISH
  • Euro banknote design exhibition catalogue, September 2003, ENGLISH