Paper Money

Euro users polled about themes for use on future notes

Survey results are in from a public poll about possible design themes for the next euro bank notes. A statement from the Governing Council of the European Central Bank on Nov. 30 revealed that “European culture” and “Rivers and birds” are possible themes for the next series of euro notes.

The new themes are a far cry from the fictitious “Ages and Styles” theme on the current notes, on which the main motifs are windows, doorways and bridges, based on architectural styles from various periods in Europe’s history. They were all invented, however, to avoid favoring one nation’s architecture over another’s. The new themes are intended to be more relatable and inclusive.

The bank formed an advisory group for the next stage in the process, which will be to propose motifs by the end of 2024. Next, the governing council will choose final designs and decide when to produce and issue new bank notes, expected to be in 2026. It will still take several years before the first bank notes are issued.

The euro design process involving the public is considerably different than the process used in the United States for the future “Catalyst” series, to commence with a $10 Federal Reserve note in 2026.

The European Central Bank conducted surveys in the summer of 2023 asking a representative sample of 23,377 Europeans for preferences from a list of seven shortlisted themes. “European culture” was the most popular, chosen by 21% of respondents. It was followed by “Rivers: the waters of life in Europe” (18%) and “Birds: free, resilient, inspiring” (17%).

The bank conducted the same survey for Europeans online in July and August 2023, attracting a record number of more than 365,000 responses. The same three themes were preferred, but in a different order.

The other four shortlisted themes were ranked substantially lower in both surveys.

The governing council decided to combine “Rivers: the waters of life in Europe” and “Birds: free, resilient, inspiring” into a single nature-related theme to reflect the public’s preferences as broadly as possible,

“We are very happy with the strong participation in our online survey,” said ECB President Christine Lagarde. “Both of the chosen themes share a common thread of connecting Europe and Europeans, and this is very much in keeping with our goal of making banknotes more relatable to people of all ages and backgrounds.”

The bank explained the rationale behind the selections: “Europe’s rich cultural heritage and dynamic cultural and creative sectors strengthen the European identity, forging a shared sense of belonging. Culture promotes common values, inclusion, and dialogue in Europe and across the globe. It brings people together.”

Europe’s wide variety of rivers and birds recognize no borders, so symbolize Europe’s’ freedom and unity and its connection to nature. “They inspire us,” it says, “and remind us of our responsibility to protect the environment.”

For more information, see the future bank notes page on the ECB’s website.

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