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Brussels, 11 January 2010
Euro coin counterfeiting in 2009
In 2009, the number of counterfeit euro coins removed from circulation was 172 100, down from 195 900 the year before. This second consecutive decrease confirms the action to render euro coins safer for users. Although encouraging, there is no room for complacency and efforts to remove counterfeits from circulation should be maintained and intensified. A Commission proposal presented in 2009 and currently being discussed in Parliament and Council aims to further improve the fight against euro coin counterfeiting .
The number of counterfeit euro coins removed from circulation in 2009 decreased by 12% compared with the year before. The evolution per denomination, however, is contrasted. Where the number of 2-euro counterfeits decreased by almost 18%, the numbers for 50-cent and 1-euro continued to increase, by 9% and 8%, respectively. The 2-euro denomination remains by far the most counterfeited euro coin, representing almost 3 out of every 4 counterfeit euro coins.
The Commission considers that counterfeit euro coins are not, however, a significant cause of concern for the public. Indeed, the overall number is very small by comparison with the total number of around 15 billion genuine euro coins put into circulation of the three highest denominations, with a resulting ratio of 1 counterfeit for every 89 000 genuine coins. The number of detected counterfeits is also lower than the sum of counterfeit coins in the euro area countries before the introduction of the euro. These counterfeit coins, while increasingly sophisticated, should generally be rejected by properly adjusted vending and other coin-operated machines.
The evolution in the number of counterfeit euro coins removed from circulation reflects the efforts Member States are making to implement Commission Recommendation of 27 May 2005 concerning the authentication of euro coins. The take-up of these measures caused sharp increases of counterfeits removed from circulation in 2006 and 2007. However, efforts vary among Member States. The Commission therefore adopted on 11 September 2009 a proposal for a Regulation on the authentication of euro coins. The aim of this proposal is to implement such procedures EU-wide so as to fight effectively against euro coin counterfeiting.
A particular development in 2009 was the increasing number of reports on counterfeit euro coins seized outside the EU. The Commission established cooperation agreements with Montenegro and Croatia and also intensified cooperation with the Turkish authorities.
Although no new illegal mint producing counterfeit euro coins was dismantled in 2009, law enforcement also contributed to combating euro coin counterfeiting. Police forces seized in 2009 around 11 000 counterfeit euro coins before the counterfeiters were able to bring them into circulation, similar to 2008. Despite these successes, most of the criminal groups responsible for euro coin counterfeiting have not been dismantled yet.
As far as counterfeit euro banknotes are concerned, around 860 000 pieces were withdrawn from circulation in 2009, as announced today by the , which is responsible for protecting euro banknotes against counterfeiting.
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.
In line with Regulation (EC) 1338/2001, the European Technical & Scientific Centre (ETSC) carries out the analysis and classification of new stamped counterfeit euro coins. The Council decided, in December 2003, that the Commission ensures the functioning of the ETSC and the co-ordination of the activities of the competent technical authorities to protect the euro coins against counterfeiting. In October 2004, the Commission decided to establish formally the ETSC in the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), using the technical equipment and installations of the Monnaie de Paris.
The Commission is also responsible for the implementation of the ‘Pericles’ programme for training and technical assistance for the protection of the 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 of a new type at the Counterfeit Analysis Centre located on the premises of the ECB, stores the technical and statistical data on counterfeit banknotes and coins in a central database, also located at the ECB, 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. In addition, it provides expertise and technical support for investigations and operations carried out by the Member States’ law enforcement services within the EU. 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.