Counterfeiting of euro bank notes falling as new series circulates
- Published: Aug 2, 2019, 12 PM
When the European Central Bank embarked on its project to issue a second series of euro bank notes, the stated goal was to stay ahead of counterfeiters.
The new issues are known as the “Europa” series, because of the appearance of the eponymous ancient Greek mythological goddess on some security features on the currency. The image is copied from a vase in the Louvre in Paris.
The first four notes, the €5, €10, €20 and €50 denominations, started circulating in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 respectively. The €100 and €200 notes entered circulation on May 28 this year, completing the new series.
Although the first and second series are co-circulating as the older ones are slowly withdrawn, the news for the ECB could not be better. The bank announced July 26 that 251,000 counterfeit euro bank notes were withdrawn from circulation in the first half of 2019. This is a decrease of 4.2 percent compared with the second half of 2018, and 16.6 percent less than in the first half of 2018, when 301,000 fakes were withdrawn. A starker comparison is the 331,000 fakes pulled the first half of 2016.
These reduced percentages take on added significance considering that in 2018 the number and value of legitimate euro bank notes in circulation grew by around 5.6 percent and 5.2 percent, respectively. More than 22 billion euro bank notes are in circulation, with a total value of around €1.2 trillion ($1,338 trillion).
The €20 and €50 notes remain the most counterfeited denominations. Together they comprise over 80 percent of all counterfeit notes. €50 notes accounted for over half the total at 54.2 percent, and the €20 note made up 27.9 percent. For the other valuations, the €5 note comprised 1.6 percent; the €10, 3 percent; €100, 10.4 percent; €200, 1.4 percent; and the discontinued €500 note, 1.5 percent.
Not surprisingly, 97.2 percent of the counterfeits were found in euro-area countries. The rest were found in noneuro-area EU member states (2.1 percent). Only 0.7 percent were found elsewhere.
The euro is the currency of 19 European countries. It was launched on Jan. 1, 2002, in 12 of them: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain. Seven others have since adopted it: Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia, and Slovenia.
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