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Euro landscape is changing

By Richard Giedroyc

2euroThe Instituto Poligrafico Zecca Della Stato, or Italian State Mint, recently issued commemorative 20-euro gold coins depicting floral frescoes decorating the Villa Igiea in Palermo on the obverse, with a fresco by Ettore De Maria Bergler as it appears at the Villa Igiea, Sala Basile, on the reverse.

Italy also issued a commemorative 50-euro gold coin depicting the allegorical frieze decorating the Chamber of Deputies at Montecitorio Palace on the obverse, with reverse of a knight on horseback from another frieze.

Austria is issuing 10-euro copper and silver coins depicting the shoreline of the Hallstätter See on the obverse, with an elevated view of the Pöstlingberg Church in Linz on the reverse.

On April 11 Bavarian Finance Minister Markus Söder unveiled a ringed bimetal (tri-substance?) 5-euro coin that includes a blue plastic ring that has been dubbed the “three material coin,” the coin composition meant to deter counterfeiters. Sources indicate the Bavarian finance ministry is debating whether to implement the new design into circulating coin types.

What is missing here? First, hasn’t the European Central Bank set rules that the highest denomination coin is supposed to be the 2-euro? Second, isn’t there supposed to be a national side on each coin, with the other side reserved for European Union rather than national symbols?

Questions were recently being asked regarding if the Eurozone currency system could survive Great Britain’s exit from the European Union (Brexit). Behind the success of the Brexit vote in Great Britain is the possible Frexit (France), Germexit (Germany), Spexit (Spain), and Uscita (Italy). Where is the euro coinage going to go if any or all of these countries leave the European Union’s monetary union? Where is the euro coinage heading even if none of these countries exit the Eurozone? It doesn’t appear there is any discipline regarding the coins issued by EU countries.

There were an estimated 5.56 billion 2-euro and another 6.81 billion 1-euro coins in circulation in December 2015, according to Statista. More may be needed since there are other countries that may yet join the currency union – or are there? On June 7, the ECB published a report indicating potential currency union members Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Sweden have laws inconsistent with ECB standards. Several of these countries have strong political and economic opposition to joining the increasingly chaotic currency union.

According to the ECB report, “In none of the seven countries examined is the legal framework fully compatible with all the requirements for the adoption of the euro. Incompatibilities persist regarding central bank independence, in particular central banks’ institutional and financial independence, as well as personal independence.”

Perhaps the ECB should first look at what Austria, Germany and Italy are issuing before they worry about laws in non-currency union member states? The report failed to address that neither Denmark nor Great Britain, through special arrangements, are required to join the currency union despite being EU nations.

And, what about the countries that have recently stopped using the small denomination 1- and 2-cent euro coins? Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland and the Netherlands adopted “Swedish rounding” in October 2015, making these two denominations obsolete in each of these nations. The German city of Kleve took the initiative and followed their example during early 2016. Finland and the Netherlands only strike these denominations for coin collector sets but none for circulation. Sweden, for whom the rounding of prices is named, rejected joining the currency union in a 2003 national referendum. Today Sweden and Denmark are each moving towards cashless economies in which electronic transfers rather than physical cash are used exclusively. Why bother to strike euro coins at all?

Physical euro coins are changing, but they are far from being consistent, as was the intention of the ECB. Who knows what will appear next in circulation?


This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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One Response to Euro landscape is changing

  1. oshalme says:

    There are so many errors in this article.

    ” First, hasn’t the European Central Bank set rules that the highest denomination coin is supposed to be the 2-euro? ” No it has not. Only rule regarding denominations is that it can NOT be the same as with any of the circulating coins (1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents or 1 and 2 euro). Austria has made coins with face value of 1.50 euro and another country with 700 cents. Many countries have issued coins with face value of 5, 10 or 20 euros. Unlike circulating coins, these are legal tender only in the country they were issued in.

    Only exception with the denomination rule is a circulating commemorative with the common 2 euro obverse and a national reverse. These are meant to circulate. Just like US State Quarters.

    “Second, isn’t there supposed to be a national side on each coin, with the other side reserved for European Union rather than national symbols”. No, there is not supposed to be. Only the circulating coins (1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents or 1 and 2 euro) must use the common side and national side. Non-circulating commemoratives and bullion coins can have both sides designed as the issuing country wants and there must be hundreds of them by now. European Central Bank itself does NOT issue any coins.

    Also, Finland did NOT ” adopt any rounding rules in October 2015. When the euro currency was issued in 2002, Finland decided to use the rounding from the beginning. 1 and 2 cent coins are issued mainly for mint sets and they are legal tender, although in cash payments you need to have those small coins for the amount of at least total of 5 cents to use them as payment.

    The map in the coins feature all EU countries, even those which do not use euro.

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