Brussels, 19 January 2011
Euro coin counterfeiting in 2010
The number of counterfeit euro coins removed from circulation in 2010 increased by 8% compared to the year before, with a total of 186 000 coins seized, compared to 172 100 in 2009. Overall, the level of counterfeit coins remains extremely low, proving that the combined efforts of the Commission/OLAF (the EU's anti-fraud office), other EU institutions and the Member States, are paying off. The 2-euro coin remains by far the most affected by this criminal activity, representing almost 3 out of every 4 counterfeit coins.
Algirdas Šemeta, EU Commissioner responsible for Anti-Fraud said: "The fight against counterfeit money – whether coins or notes – is extremely important for both our economy and our currency. OLAF's efficiency in working with national authorities to find counterfeit euro coins and remove them from circulation is to be commended, as it has allowed us to keep the problem relatively contained in Europe. We will continue to dedicate all necessary resources to finding these fakes, in an effort to stamp out the problem across the EU."
Although the number of counterfeit euro coins removed from circulation in 2010 increased by 8% compared to the year before, the Commission considers that counterfeit euro coins are not a significant cause for concern for the public. Indeed, the overall number of counterfeit coins is very small compared to the total number of around 16 billion genuine euro coins (of the three highest denominations) currently in circulation. The ratio is 1 counterfeit for every 86 000 genuine coins. In addition, counterfeit coins are rejected by properly adjusted vending, and other coin-operated, machines.
Counterfeit euro coins detected in circulation, 2007 – 2010
Progress made in removing counterfeit euro coins from circulation reflects the efforts made by Member States to authenticate euro coins. To assist in these efforts, the European Parliament and the Council adopted a Regulation proposed by the Commission on the authentication of euro coins. This Regulation was published on 15 December 2010 and sets out the rules for financial institutions to ensure that all euro coins which they put back into circulation are genuine.
As far as counterfeit euro banknotes are concerned, around 751 000 notes were withdrawn from circulation in 2010, according to figures from the European Central Bank (ECB) which is in charge of the protection of banknotes against counterfeiting.
In 2010, the Commission/OLAF carried out 17 projects for the protection of euro banknotes and coins against counterfeiting, including conferences and seminars organised by either the Member States or Commission/OLAF under the Pericles programme, in collaboration with Europol and the ECB.
In protecting the euro against counterfeiting the Commission collaborates closely with its partners: the European Central Bank (ECB), Europol, Interpol, and the competent national authorities.
The European Technical & Scientific Centre (ETSC), which the Commission established in the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) in October 2004 carries out the analysis and classification of new stamped counterfeit euro coins, using the equipment and installations of the Monnaie de Paris.
The Pericles programme which exists since 2001 provides training and technical assistance to competent national authorities for the protection of euro banknotes and coins against counterfeiting. The Commission prepares legislative initiatives and monitors the implementation of the relevant legislation.
The European Central Bank (ECB) performs a technical analysis of counterfeit euro banknotes in its premises. It stores the technical and statistical data on counterfeit banknotes and coins in a central database, and disseminates the relevant technical and statistical information to all those involved in combating counterfeiting.
Europol supports the Member States’ law enforcement services in combating serious organised crime by facilitating the exchange of information and providing operational and strategic analysis. Europol maintains a central database for law enforcement information relating to euro counterfeiting and also uses the technical database located at the ECB. Europol provides the means for financing police investigations in the domain of euro counterfeiting and has been designated as the EU central office for combating euro counterfeiting.
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