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Brussels, 6 May 2014
Zero tolerance for counterfeiting the euro: European Commission proposal clears final hurdle
The EU's Finance Ministers have today backed measures that will reinforce the protection of the euro and other currencies through criminal law measures (IP/13/88). New measures will include tougher sanctions for criminals and improved tools for cross-border investigation. The directive was backed by the European Parliament on 16 April 2014 (MEMO/14/303) and is expected to enter into force in June 2014.
Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner responsible for Justice during Vice-President Viviane Reding's electoral leave said: "These new measures will help protect one of our most valuable assets: the euro. Citizens and businesses must be able to trust that the money they have in their pockets is authentic. And criminals seeking to undermine the strength of the euro must be duly punished. Today's endorsement marks a strong resolve to protect our currency for honest businesses and citizens and sends a stark warning to criminals."
Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner responsible for Taxation, Customs, Statistics, Audit and Anti-Fraud, said: "These new rules against euro-counterfeiting will boost confidence in our common currency, and help to protect honest businesses and citizens from ending up with fake money in their pockets. While the final text has less bite than the Commission would have liked, it is nonetheless an important advance on where we stand today. The euro is better protected against criminals, thanks to this new law adopted today."
Since the euro was introduced in 2002, counterfeiting is estimated to have cost the EU at least €500 million. Recent figures published by the European Commission show that a total of 175 900 fake euro coins were withdrawn from circulation last year. According to the latest figures from the European Central Bank, 353 000 counterfeit euro banknotes were withdrawn in the second half of 2013.
The measures proposed by the Commission will bring about the following changes:
Next steps: Following the political agreement with the Council in the trilogue meeting (MEMO 14/123), the vote in the European on 16 April supporting the directive (MEMO/14/303) and todays' backing by the Council, the directive is due to be signed by the President of the Council on 13 May 2014 and the President of the European Parliament on 15 May 2014. After publication of the directive in the Official Journal, which is expected in June 2014, Member States will have two years to transpose the new rules into national law.
For more information
Homepage of Commissioner Algirdas Šemeta: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/semeta/index_en.htm
Homepage of Commissioner Johannes Hahn who has taken interim responsibility for the justice portfolio until 26 May 2014: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/hahn/index_en.cfm
Follow Commissioner Šemeta on Twitter: @ASemetaEU
Follow EU Justice on Twitter: @EU_Justice
Follow Commissioner Hahn on Twitter; @JHahnEU
European Commission – criminal law policy: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/criminal/criminal-law-policy/index_en.htm