Brussels, 15 July 1999
Background note prepared by the European Commission in close collaboration with the European Central Bank
1. Current state of the euro coin production
About 56 billion euro coins will be produced to replace the national currency coins in the 11 countries of the euro zone. These represent a total weight of about 250,000 tons. Each Member State is responsible for the coins it will put into circulation. Production of euro coins started in May 1998 and is now under way in most euro zone Mints. By the end of May 1999 about 8% of the required volume of euro coins had been produced. Production is proceeding according to schedule.
2. Technical specifications
The euro coins are being produced on the basis of detailed specifications, common to all the euro zone Mints. This is necessary because the euro coins will be legal tender throughout the euro zone from 1 January 2002. Appropriate tolerances have been fixed for the various technical parameters (such as diameter, weight, etc.) with a view to ensuring that the euro coins will operate in vending machines throughout the euro zone, irrespective of the Mint where they were produced or the national designs which will appear on one side. The unique material composition of the coins, especially of the higher denomination coins, makes them difficult to be counterfeited and easy to distinguish from other coins in vending machines.
3. Co-operation with the blind and partially sighted, and with the vending machine industry
The configuration and technical specifications of the euro coins were decided following consultations with the representatives of consumers groups, the blind, and the vending industry. The specifications of the euro coins are in line with the requirements of these groups. The different edge configuration in conjunction with the size are intended to help blind and partially sighted people to distinguish between the different denominations.
Mint Directors are currently working with the vending industry to provide further assistance for the operation of vending machines with euro coins. Vending machines must be able to function with euro coins from early 2002. For that reason, six test centres, located in Finland, France, Germany (Mainz and Berlin), the Netherlands and Spain, have been established to centralise the measurements and controls for the coin operating industry and make it possible for manufacturers of coin validators to adjust their mechanisms with coins produced in all Mints in the euro zone. These test centres are in addition to the arrangements made by national Mints for the vending industry to undertake on the spot trials with the coins they produce.
4. The quality management system of euro coins
With a view to ensuring a high and even quality for the euro coins, EU Finance Ministers, the Mints and the European Central Bank have agreed on a detailed Quality Management System. Each Mint is responsible for the quality of its own coins according to common rules. The European Central Bank acts as an independent assessor. It evaluates the quality reports of the produced coins and conducts regular yearly visits to the Mints. The ECB will immediately alert the Finance Ministers of any quality problems which may occur.