Euro banknotes were initially introduced as virtual currency in 01 January 1999. By 2002, the Euro which is the currency of the Eurozone issued its notes and coins. In time it expanded throughout the European Union (EU) and eventually took over the national currencies of its member states with the exception of the United Kingdom (UK) and Denmark.
The currency has its origins as far back as the 1960’s. It had always been the goal of the EU to create an economic and monetary union. Its vision was fulfilled when the Maastricht Treaty came into full effect in 1993. According to figures from the European Central Bank (ECB), there were an estimated 19,417,000,000 Euro banknotes that were circulating in the Eurozone last August 2016. Its value was estimated at EUR 1.1 Trillion.
Euro banknotes are denominated as EUR 5, EUR 10, EUR 20, EUR 50, EUR 100, EUR 200 and EUR 500. Even though the banknotes are issued and printed in the various member countries, their design is identical across the entire Eurozone.
The banknotes are made of pure cotton fibre. This is to improve durability and to give the currency a unique feel. In terms of dimensions, the Euro banknote measures 120mm x 62mm to 160mm x 82mm. They also come in different color schemes.
The initial circulation of the Euro banknotes carried the following features:
• EU Flag• Map of Europe on the reverse• The name “Euro” in Latin and Greek script• Signature of the ECB President• 12 Stars of the EU FlagEach Euro banknote also indicated the acronym of the ECB in 5 variants that covered all the official languages of the EU as of 2002. These variants were as follows:
• BCE – Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Irish, Romanian• ECB – English, Danish, Dutch, Swedish, Czech, Lithuanian, Latvian, Slovak, Slovene• EZB – German• EKT – Greek• EKP – Finnish
Overseas territories of the Eurozone member countries which used the Euro such as the Azores, French Guiana, Guadaloupe, Madeira, Martinique, Reunion and the Canary Islands are shown under the map in separate boxes. Cyprus and Malta which joined in 2008 were included in the 2013 series note.
Design Elements of the Euro Banknote
1. Bridges – The European continent is widely renowned for its rich architectural history. Although the banknotes look identical across the EU, each one is differentiated by architectural styles that best represent each member country. One side features windows and gateways while the other side depicts bridges.
2. Signature – All Euro banknotes should have the signature of the ECB President. Here is the list of ECB Presidents that have appeared on the banknotes:
• 2002 – 2003: Wim Duisenberg• 2003 – 2012: Jean Claude Trichet• 2012 to present: Mario Draghi
3. Security Features – Typical of bank currency, the Euro banknote has its own set of security features:
• Holograms • Variable Color Ink • Checksum • EURion Constellation • Watermarks • Digital Watermark • Infrared and UV Watermark • Security Thread • Magnetic Ink • Micro-Printing • Matted Surface • Raised Print • Bar Code
It is assumed that each banknote series carries at least 11 security features. However for security purposes the complete set of currency safeguards is a tightly-kept secret of the ECB.
Euro Coins – Specifications
Euro coins are denominated as 1,2 euros then 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents. Each denomination totals EUR 3.88. Similar to bank notes, Euro coins were first introduced in 1999 by the Central Banks of the Eurozone. The coins were officially circulated on 01 January 2002. By 02 July 2002, Euro coins replaced the national coins of the member countries.
Design Selection Process
The design of the Euro coin included inputs from all parties in the Euro Zone. Each country was asked to submit three renditions of the common reverse designs. The renditions had to fit into one of three motifs:
• Architectural and Ornamental• Aims and Ideals of the EU• European Personalities
There were 12 member countries in the Euro Zone and hence, 36 designs were submitted for consideration. Of the 36, nine were chosen and put forward for poll testing and final design selection.
Luc Luycx of the Belgian Royal Mint came up with the Euro coin common reverse design.
12 Member Countries of the Euro Zone
1. Belgium2. Germany3. Spain4. France5. Greece6. Ireland7. Italy8. Luxembourg9. Netherlands10. Austria11. Portugal12. Finland
Common Reverse Designs
All Euro coins share a common European face. A member country can decorate the head or obverse side of the coins with their own theme. Regardless of the design, the coins can be used in all of the Euro Zone’s member countries. For example, a German can use a coin with the imprint of the King of Spain to buy waffles with his money in France.
A map of the EU superimposed on a background of transverse lines to which are attached the stars of the European flag can be found on the common face of the Euro coins. The design of the coins was finalized during a June 1997 meeting of the European Council in Amsterdam. There are differences in the design of the coins. The 1, 2 and 5 cent coins depict Europe’s place in the world. Meanwhile the 10, 20 and 50 cent Euro coins show Europe without frontiers.
The Euro Symbol
The Greek letter epsilon was the inspiration for the graphic symbol of the Euro. The symbol pays homage to one of Europe’s cradles of civilization and of course, represents the first letter of the word “Europe”. The parallel lines connote stability within the EU while the official abbreviation became “EUR”. Similar to other currencies like the FRF (French Franc), DEM (Deutschemark) and GBP (Pound Sterling), the EUR was registered with the International Standards Organization (ISO). It is used as the medium of transaction for financial, commercial and business activities.