Twenty years of euro: 10 things you (perhaps) don't know about the currency of the old continent


When was the Euro born?
The euro replaced national currencies in the pockets of citizens on January 1, 2002, but was officially introduced three years earlier, January 1, 1999. In the first 3 years of its adoption it was a virtual currency, used only for accounting purposes and in electronic payments.
Who administers the euro?
The euro is administered by the European Central Bank (ECB), the body that decides the monetary policies of the member countries of the Union and by Eurosystem, the body composed of the Central Banks of the Eurozone countries: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain.

What is the role of the Eurosystem?
The Eurosystem is responsible for implementing the policies established by the ECB, guarantees the correct functioning of the payment system in the Euro Area and participates in the printing, minting and distribution of coins in all member states.

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What does the serial number of the banknotes mean?
Each banknote is identified by a serial number consisting of 1 letter and 11 digits. The first letter indicates the establishment where it was physically produced, while the following numbers indicate the position that the banknote had in the sheet on which it was printed.

Do bridges depicted on banknotes really exist?
No, the bridges printed on the different banknotes are fancy architectural structures designed by the designer Robert Kalina .
They represent the bridges that ideally unite the countries of the Union. The ECB has chosen not to depict real buildings to avoid favoritism of any kind and not to encourage any kind of nationalism.

Who prints the euro physically ?
The ECB decides each year the quantity of banknotes and coins that must be minted, with the aim of ensuring the correct circulation of cash and replacing those that are excessively worn. Most banknotes are printed by mints of EU member states or by private printers.
Currently those authorized to produce banknotes are 17 and some are based in countries such as the United Kingdom and Denmark that have never been part of the Monetary Union.

Image The amount of euro banknotes circulating in the European monetary system has exceeded 20 billion. | ECB

How many banknotes and coins are there?
According to data published by the ECB, at the end of December 2018 the euro banknotes in circulation were 22, 614, 824, 598 and the coins 130.717.264.347.
The most common banknotes are those of 50 euros (over 10 billion) while the most common coins are those of 1 cent (over 35 billion).

What are euros made of?
The euro banknotes are made of pure cotton paper which makes them particularly resistant to wear. A part of the banknote is printed in relief so as to allow its recognition by touch.

What anti-counterfeiting systems have been adopted in the design of the euro?
Euros are considered to be among the most difficult currencies to counterfeit. Each banknote is in fact equipped with different security systems that make unauthorized reproduction particularly expensive and technically complex.

Watermark: each banknote has a dark watermark that can be viewed by looking at it against the light.

Strip and holographic plaque: the two faces of each banknote are characterized respectively by a strip and a holographic plaque. By moving the banknote under the light, it is possible to observe the euro symbol and the nominal value on the holographic strip.
Iridescent strip: in the central area of ​​the banknotes there is a Strip that shines if the banknote is tilted under a light source.

Where does the euro symbol come from?

The euro symbol is inspired by the Greek letter epsilon ε and is a tribute to Greece as the cradle of Western and European civilization. The two parallel lines crossing the glyph indicate the stability of the community currency.

The symbol was presented for the first time by the European Commission on 12 December 1996 and was chosen from 10 original projects. The name of the creator of the € symbol has never been officially disclosed, although it is believed to be the German Arthur Eisenmenger.