Brussels, 11 February 2013
Euro coin counterfeiting in 2012
The number of counterfeit euro coins removed from circulation increased by 17% from 157 000 in 2011 to 184 000 in 2012. With 16.5 billion genuine euro coins currently in circulation, the counterfeit ratio is 1 for every 100 000 genuine coins. The 2-euro denomination remains by far the most affected by this criminal activity, representing almost 2 out of every 3 counterfeit euro coins detected.
As far as counterfeit euro banknotes are concerned, around 531 000 notes were withdrawn from circulation in 2012, according to figures from the European Central Bank which is in charge of protecting banknotes against counterfeiting.
Preventive measures including legislation, technical analysis, law enforcement coordination and judicial cooperation have allowed Member States to make progress in removing counterfeit euro coins from circulation. However, current criminal rules need to be strengthened to improve the prevention, investigation and sanctioning of euro counterfeiting throughout the EU as Member States have diverging rules and levels of protection. Against this background, the Commission has adopted on 5 February 2013 a proposal for a directive setting minimum rules for sanctions (see IP/13/88). It will introduce efficient investigative tools and improve prevention by allowing the analysis of counterfeits by the competent authorities, to further enhance the protection of the euro and other currencies by criminal measures. The entry into force of the Regulation on the authentication of euro coins on 1 January 2012 setting out the rules for financial institutions to ensure that all euro coins that they put back into circulation are genuine is also a powerful instrument to protect the euro against counterfeiting.
Under EU rules (Regulation EC 1338/2001), the Commission is responsible for the European Technical & Scientific Centre (ETSC). The ETSC analyses and classifies new stamped counterfeit euro coins. It is established in OLAF and uses the technical equipment and installations of the Monnaie de Paris.
The Commission also collaborates closely with the European Central Bank (ECB), Europol, Interpol and the competent national authorities. The European Central Bank is responsible for analysing counterfeit euro banknotes. Europol and Interpol support the Member States’ law enforcement services in combating serious organised crime by facilitating the exchange of information and providing operational and strategic analysis.
The Commission is also responsible for implementing the ‘Pericles’ programme which provides training and technical assistance for competent national authorities to enable them to further improve the protection of euro banknotes and coins against counterfeiting. Under this programme, the Commission/OLAF carried out 16 projects in 2012, including conferences and seminars organised by either the Member States or the Commission/OLAF, in collaboration with Europol and the ECB. The Commission prepares legislative initiatives and monitors the implementation of the relevant legislation.
For more information on counterfeit coins, including about the raid of an illegal mint carried out on January 16 in Italy by the Italian Carabinieri and Guardia di Finanza in cooperation with OLAF:
Homepage of Commissioner Algirdas Šemeta: