PRESS RELEASE

The euro cash changeover on track

28 December 2001

On 1 January 2002, the 306 million citizens of the euro area will begin to use the euro banknotes and coins. The euro cash changeover operation has been advancing according to plan, thanks to the thorough preparations and firm commitment of the hundreds of thousands of people directly involved in the cash changeover process.

As a complement to the euro-related information activities conducted by the governments, the European Commission and other private and public entities, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the 12 national central banks of the euro area have conducted the Euro 2002 Information Campaign in order to familiarise citizens with their new money.

Over the last few weeks of 2001 some 200 million copies of a leaflet providing information on the euro banknotes and coins, their security features and the changeover modalities in the eleven official Community languages have been distributed to European households. This leaflet has also been translated into 23 other languages, in co-operation with the respective national central banks.

In order to contribute to a smooth changeover in the first few days of 2002, the public is asked to avoid making mixed payments, i.e. paying an amount partly in euro and partly in national currency. As far as possible, payments of small amounts should be made using the exact money. To that end, the ECB encourages the public to make active use of the euro coins contained in the almost 200 million starter kits sold since 14 December 2001

To keep the media and the general public informed of the progress of the euro cash changeover, the ECB will publish daily updates on its website from 2 January to 11 January 2002, and weekly updates on 18 and 25 January 2002.

More than 15 billion euro banknotes, worth more than EUR 630 billion, have been produced, as have well over 51 billion coins worth almost EUR 16 billion. Of these 15 billion euro banknotes, less than 10 billion will enter circulation initially. The rest will be held as logistical stocks to accommodate any changes in demand.

To ensure a smooth transition to the euro banknotes and coins and an efficient withdrawal of the national banknotes and coins, the logistics of the changeover have been determined and implemented well in advance. For example, the advance distribution of the euro banknotes and coins to the financial sector in the euro area, i.e. the process of frontloading began on 1 September 2001 and has progressed according to schedule.

By 31 December, more than 6 billion euro banknotes worth some EUR 132 billion and more than 37.5 billion euro coins with a total value of around EUR 12.4 billion will have been frontloaded. Of the frontloaded amount, one-third will be debited to the banks on 2 January 2002, the date of the first refinancing operation in 2002. The other two-thirds will be debited at two equal positions on 23 and 30 January 2002.

In addition, euro banknotes have been frontloaded to more than 20 central banks outside the euro area since 1 December 2001. However, in most countries outside the euro area the bulk of the euro banknotes will be made available directly by the banking sector.

For further information on the euro cash changeover, please visit the ECB's website at http://www.ecb.europa.eu and the Euro 2002 Information Campaign website at http://www.euro.ecb.int.

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