Eurozone to stop printing, issuing €500 note by the end of 2018

Reaction to calls by law enforcement agencies who cite note's uses by criminals, terrorists
By , Special to Coin World
Published : 05/14/16
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The European Central Bank announced on May 4 that it will permanently stop printing and issuing the €500 bank note by the end of 2018. The decision is the end result of a discussion that began publicly not long ago and reached a crescendo after the attacks in Paris and Brussels in November and March. The dispute over the note’s future pitted multiple law enforcement agencies against the note’s defenders. Some of this latter group equate the move with an infringement on personal freedom. Others say the note is important for those who distrust the banking system.

The highest value note in the euro series (worth approximately $570 at current exchange rates) has been called the “Bin Laden” and the note “criminals love” because of its supposed appeal to terrorists, drug dealers and money launderers. A million dollars in €500 notes, for instance, weighs just 5½ pounds, while its equivalent in €200 bills would weigh more than double that, and the same in €100 notes, over four times as much.

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The €500 note will remain legal tender but will not be included in the new “Europa” series of bank notes, which will now consist only of the €5, €10, €20, €50, €100 and €200 denominations. The latter two denominations are scheduled for release in 2018 in quantities sufficient to coincide with the phase-out of the €500.

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