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Measures to protect the euro against counterfeiting

The European Union (EU) is strengthening the protection of the euro against counterfeiting by setting up a system for the exchange and centralisation of information, cooperation, including cooperation with non-EU countries, analysis and withdrawal of counterfeit notes and coins.

ACT

Council Regulation (EC) No 1338/2001 of 28 June 2001 laying down measures necessary for the protection of the euro against counterfeiting [See amending act(s)].

SUMMARY

This regulation seeks to set up an overall system for protecting the euro against counterfeiting, with a view to the introduction of euro notes and coins on 1 January 2002. It supplements a number of decisions taken previously in this field, namely:

  • Guideline ECB/1999/3 of the European Central Bank (ECB) of 26 August 1998 on certain provisions regarding euro banknotes, which established the Counterfeit Analysis Centre (CAC);
  • Council decision of 28 February 2000 providing for the systematic gathering of technical information on euro counterfeiting by the ECB and for the establishment of national centres (Coin National Analysis Centres - CNACs) and a European Technical and Scientific Centre (ETSC) responsible for analysing euro coins;
  • Council Framework Decision 2000/383/JHA of 29 May 2000 on increasing protection by criminal penalties and other sanctions against counterfeiting in connection with the introduction of the euro.

The system for the protection of the euro includes the following elements:

  • the systematic transmission of technical data on counterfeit euro notes and coins by the competent national authorities (national central banks, other empowered bodies, etc.) to the ECB, which will be responsible for storage and processing;
  • the obligation on the competent national authorities to allow the National Analysis Centre (NAC) to examine suspected counterfeit notes and to allow the CNAC to examine suspect coins. These bodies must send all new types of suspect notes to the ECB and all new types of suspect coins to the ETSC;
  • the obligation on credit institutions, on other payment service providers and on other institutions that process and distribute notes and coins to the public:
    1. to ensure that all euro notes and coins that they have received and that they intend to put back into circulation are checked for authenticity and
    2. to withdraw from circulation those notes and coins that they know or have good reason to believe are counterfeit and to hand them over to the relevant national authority.
    European Union (EU) countries must provide for effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties applicable to institutions that fail to discharge their obligations;
  • cooperation between the relevant authorities of EU countries (in particular, the national central offices established under the Geneva Convention), the ECB and the Commission for the purposes of strategic analysis and mutual assistance in the prevention of counterfeiting, including scientific support and training, and between them and the European Police Office (Europol);
  • centralisation of the information on euro counterfeiting cases within the national central offices, with a view to transmission to Europol via its national units;
  • cooperation with non-EU countries and international organisations.

EU countries must communicate the list of authorities competent to identify forged notes and coins to the Commission and the ECB.

Regulation (EC) No 1339/2001, as amended by Regulation (EC) No 45/2009, extends Articles 1 to 11 of this regulation to the EU countries that have not adopted the euro as their single currency.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Regulation (EC) No 1338/2001

4.7.2001

-

OJ L 181 of 4.7.2001

Amending act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Regulation (EC) No 44/2009

23.1.2009

-

OJ L 17 of 22.1.2009

Successive amendments and corrections to Regulation (EC) No 1338/2001 have been incorporated in the basic text. This consolidated version is for reference purposes only.

RELATED ACTS

Regulation (EU) No 1210/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 December 2010 concerning authentication of euro coins and handling of euro coins unfit for circulation [Official Journal L 339 of 22.12.2010].
This regulation introduces common binding rules for checking the authenticity of euro coins in circulation and for handling and reimbursing euro coins unfit for circulation within the euro area.
Credit institutions, other payment service providers and any other institutions that process and distribute euro coins to the public must apply a procedure of authentication by coin-processing machines or trained personnel to coins intended for re-circulation.
All counterfeit coins and coins unfit for circulation must be handed over to the designated national authority. EU countries must withdraw from circulation and reimburse or replace any unfit coins.

Decision ECB/2010/14 of the European Central Bank of 16 September 2010 on the authenticity and fitness checking and recirculation of euro banknotes (2010/597/EU) [Official Journal L 267 of 9.10.2010].
This decision establishes common rules and procedures for checking the authenticity and fitness of euro banknotes intended for recirculation by credit institutions, other payment service providers and any other institutions that process and distribute them to the public. These checks may only be carried out by a type of banknote handling machine that has been successfully tested by a national central bank (NCB) or manually by a trained member of the cash handler’s staff.
Banknotes classified as genuine and fit following a check by a type of banknote handling machine may be put back into circulation through customer-operated machines or cash dispensers. Banknotes checked manually by a staff member may only be re-circulated over the counter.
All counterfeit banknotes must be handed over to the competent national authorities, while all unfit banknotes must be handed over to the relevant NCB.

Competent national authorities referred to in Article 2(b) of Council Regulation (EC) No 1338/2001 [Official Journal C 56 of 10.3.2009].
This document lists the authorities that EU countries have designated as competent at national level for the fight against counterfeiting, for the purposes of Regulation (EC) No 1338/2001.

Council Decision 2003/861/EC of 8 December 2003 concerning analysis and cooperation with regard to counterfeit euro coins [Official Journal L 325 of 12.12.2003].
Under this decision, the Commission has the task of establishing the ETSC and ensuring its functioning and the coordination of the activities of the competent technical authorities to protect euro coins against counterfeiting. Council Decision 2003/862/EC extends these provisions to the EU countries that have not adopted the euro.

Decision ECB/2003/4 of the European Central Bank of 20 March 2003 on the denominations, specifications, reproduction, exchange and withdrawal of euro banknotes (2003/205/EC) [Official Journal L 78 of 25.3.2003].

Agreement between the European Police Office (Europol) and the European Central Bank (ECB) [Official Journal C 23 of 25.1.2002].
The agreement, concluded under Article 3 of the present regulation, gives Europol access to the technical and statistical data held by the ECB that relate to counterfeit notes and coins discovered both in EU and in non-EU countries. Europol will thus have access to information in the ECB-managed Counterfeiting Monitoring System (CMS), but will not be able to enter data directly.
Furthermore, the ECB and Europol are to:

  • promptly exchange information;
  • consult each other and coordinate their policies, training activities and public information campaigns;
  • provide mutual technical assistance needed for certain analyses.

Subject to compliance with certain conditions relating to criminal proceedings, the ECB provides Europol with a sample of counterfeit euro notes for analysis.

Council Decision 2001/923/EC of 17 December 2001 establishing an exchange, assistance and training programme for the protection of the euro against counterfeiting (the “Pericles” programme) [Official Journal L 339 of 21.12.2001].

Council Decision 2001/887/JHA of 6 December 2001 on the protection of the euro against counterfeiting [Official Journal L 329 of 14.12.2001].

Decision ECB/2001/11 of the European Central Bank of 8 November 2001 on certain conditions regarding access to the Counterfeit Monitoring System (CMS) (2001/912/EC) [Official Journal L 337 of 20.12.2001].
Under this decision, the ECB reorganised the database on counterfeit money into the Counterfeiting Monitoring System (CMS). This system is a central database containing all the technical information and statistics relating to the counterfeiting of euro notes and coins supplied by EU or non-EU countries.

Last updated: 06.01.2011

See also

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