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Brussels, 30 September 2003

Commission adopts framework for commemorative euro coins

The Commission adopted today a Recommendation governing the issuance of commemorative euro coins intended for circulation and the “standard” national sides of euro coins. The Commission recommends that the current moratorium on the issuance of commemorative euro circulation coins be lifted as of 2004. Euro-area countries should be able, as of next year, to use the national side of their 2-euro coin to commemorate special events or personalities of European-wide or global importance. On the other hand, the Commission recommends that the “standard” national sides of euro coins remain unchanged until the end of 2008.

Euro coins have a “European” side, common in all euro area member states, and a distinctive “national” side. The designs on the national sides of the euro coins were decided by each member state and minted on the basis of common technical specifications laid down in a Council Regulation. The 12 Member States of the euro area have together brought 96 different euro coins into circulation. Almost two years of experience with the euro coins show that these have become widely accepted by the European public. Their diversity is a source of interest to all European citizens.

Commemorative coins have a long tradition in euro area member states. However, the Council agreed in November 1998 on a moratorium on commemorative issue coins in the early years of euro coin circulation. The purpose was to allow in the early years citizens to familiarise themselves with the new coins and avoid the risk of creating uncertainty among the public.

In the Recommendation adopted today, based on discussions with Member States, the Commission recommends that this moratorium be lifted as of 2004. It also recommends that commemorative euro coins should be minted on the basis a commonly agreed framework. The main rules are:

  • the 2-euro coin should be the sole denomination used for such issues;

  • the number of issues should be limited to one per issuing State per year;

  • the total number of coins put into circulation for each individual issue will be subject to ceilings included in this Recommendation and have the same technical characteristics as normal 2-euro coins;

  • Member States should inform the Commission before the coins are issued so that it can publish all relevant information in the Official Journal in order to make it available to all parties concerned.

The Commission considers that the 2-euro denomination is best suited for commemorative issues. It is a visually attractive coin and its large diameter makes it very apt for the representation of designs. Furthermore it is very advanced bi-metallic technology and further technical characteristics make it very difficult to reproduce by counterfeiters. Occasions for the issuance of these commemorative coins could be political events that represent milestones in European integration or extraordinary sports events like the Olympic Games. In line with past customs, in some countries such coin issues have been used to commemorate personalities whose life's work is of marked importance. The 2-euro commemorative coins will have legal tender status throughout the euro area.

As far as the national side of the euro coins is concerned, the Commission recommends that Member States do not change the standard design before the end of 2008. The issue will be reviewed before that deadline in the light of experience. An exemption from this rule is provided in case of change in the Head of State depicted on some euro coins. This recommendation does not concern the European side of euro coins.

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