Brussels, 29 July 1998
Commission proposes improvements to euro coins
The European Commission has proposed a number of changes to improve the technical specifications of euro denominated coins which will enter into circulation on 1 January 2002. The changes, affecting only the 50 cent and 10 cent denominations, will make the coins easier to handle for blind and partially sighted people and will help vending machines to identify them accurately. For both coins, the Commission proposes that the edge should be shaped with fine scallops (instead of coarse milling). This pronouced design should make the coins easier to distinguish by touch, a vital consideration for blind and partially sighted users. In addition, the Commission proposes making the 50 cent coin slightly heavier (7.8 grammes instead of 7 grammes) therefore increasing its thickness. This change responds to concerns among representatives of the vending machine industry about the potential risk of 20 cent coins being used fraudulently in place of 50 cent coins. All other aspects of the coins remain unchanged from the Council regulation adopted by the Council of Finance Ministers (Ecofin) on 3 May 1998. It should be possible for the proposed changes to be adopted by the Council by the start of 1999 following consultation of the European Parliament and the European Central Bank.
The proposed Council regulation is presented at the initiative of President Jacques Santer and Yves-Thibault de Silguy, Commissioner for economic, monetary and financial affairs. The text reflects intensive discussions with representatives of consumer groups including the blind and visually impaired people, the vending machine industry and experts from national mints. At the Ecofin Council meeting on 6 July, Finance Ministers gave political agreement to the principle of the Commission's proposals on the clear understanding that there would be no further changes to the technical specifications of euro-denominated coins before their introduction on 1 January 2002. This point is also understood and accepted by the European Vending Association and the European Blind Union.
The attached table sets out the technical specifications for the full range of coins incorporating the modifications proposed by the Commission. It is estimated that about 55 billion coins will be needed for distribution in the 11 countries Belguim, Germany, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Austria, Finland. that will participate in economic and monetary union from 1 Janaury 1999. Physical production will be the responsibility of national mints, subject to approval by the European Central Bank of the volume of coins put into circulation. At least one Member State (France) has already started minting some denominations of the euro coins and other Member States are expected to follow shortly.
The first series of euro coins will include eight denominations in the range from 1 cent to 2 euro with the following technical specifications: