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Address on the occasion of the inauguration of the Euro Exhibition

Speech by Peter Praet, Member of the Executive Board of the ECB,
at the Cité des sciences et de l’industrie,
Paris, 16 June 2011

Dear Monsieur Cazé,

Governor Noyer,

Your excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to be with you here today, in the Library of the Cité des sciences et de l’industrie, for the opening of the exhibition devoted to the euro.

Since 2002 the euro has probably become the most visible symbol of European integration, and everyone will acknowledge that it has made life much easier for the citizens of Europe. For almost ten years people have not needed to change their money when travelling from one country to another within the euro area, which now comprises 17 countries. Whether you are here in Paris, Rome or, since 1 January of this year, Tallinn in Estonia, you can pay for your purchases with euro banknotes. Moreover, when you buy a baguette from a bakery in France, you can use the euro coins that you picked up during a trip to Portugal or Belgium.

The introduction of the euro removed all currency risks between the Member States of the European Union that belong to the euro area and contributed to the completion of the single European market.

Two years ago the European Central Bank (ECB) launched the Euro School – an initiative aimed primarily at schoolchildren, but also all their family members – which comprises a series of educational tools that are easily accessible to everyone. These tools are based on the idea that there is a wide range of teaching methods to accommodate the learning styles of most people. They therefore draw on traditional techniques, such as book-based learning, as well as modern approaches, such as exhibitions, video games, presentations by experts in schools or online competitions.

As part of this initiative, the ECB has organised the Euro Exhibition in collaboration with the Cité des sciences et de l’industrie and the Banque de France. The main objective of this exhibition is to give visitors of all ages the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the euro. It provides information on the designs of the euro banknotes and coins. The seven denominations of the euro banknotes reflect our common heritage, showing the architectural styles of different periods in European history. The banknotes also depict bridges, which symbolise the connection between the people of Europe. In addition, the exhibition explains the history of money and describes the technologically advanced security features that make euro banknotes extremely difficult to forge and counterfeits easy to recognise. As well as the opportunity to compare genuine banknotes with counterfeits, the exhibition includes interactive presentations and films. There is also a kids’ corner that features some more entertaining ways of learning about the euro and is by no means only for young visitors!

I am also pleased to announce that the ECB, in cooperation with the Banque de France, will tomorrow launch the online competition “Euro Run France 2011”, which is aimed at 9 to 12 year olds and will run until 31 December this year. Euro Run is one of the video games featured in the kids’ corner and, just this afternoon, we saw some friendly rivalry between various schools in Paris. The game is intended for youngsters belonging to the “euro generation”, who have probably never used the former currencies of the euro area countries and see the advantages of the euro as being self-evident. I would therefore encourage all students and their parents to learn more about the euro by visiting our exhibition here at the Library of the Cité des sciences et de l’industrie – which is free to enter – and to take part in the competition on the ECB’s website.

Paris is the tenth city in which the ECB’s Euro Exhibition has been on display. On behalf of the Eurosystem, I would like to thank, in particular, our partner, the Cité des sciences et de l’industrie, for having agreed to host our exhibition in its Library, and the Banque de France, which, it goes without saying, is our key partner in France.

Monsieur Cazé, Governor Noyer, your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I very much hope that you will enjoy your visit to the Euro Exhibition, which I am now delighted to declare open.

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