Beginning next year, the European Central Bank (ECB) will gradually replace current euro notes with new banknotes with improved safety features.
Instead of fictional buildings and bridges, the bills will have a stylized picture from Greek mythology as their watermark. The mark shows the Phoenician princess Europa, after whom the continent was named. Despite the new safety feature, counterfeiters are unlikely to be deterred for long, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle thinks.
Counterfeit banknotes are in circulation all over Europe. They're being used every day, not just by criminals but also by innocent citizens, for ordinary transactions in shops or hotels. Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) has announced that the total value of counterfeit currency confiscated by police in 2011 amounted to about 6.5 million euros ($8.3 million).
Fighting the forgers
The ECB plans to start rolling out new notes in 2013, starting with a 5 euro note in May. The reason for this is not, however, that forged banknotes are causing inflation.
Bavarian crimefighter Helmut Schäfer told reporters that the central bank has developed a new generation of bills to "make life as hard as possible" for counterfeiters. Forgers require a certain amount of time to examine the new notes closely enough to forge them, and early forgeries are usually ease to recognize. From the Central Bank's point of view, a new cycle of bank notes is instigated once counterfeiters are practiced enough and able to produce "clean work". When this happens, existing notes are overhauled and altered.
Current euro notes have been in use for about ten years now. Many are torn or worn thin and need to be replaced anyway, so when rolling out new bills banks take the opportunity to revise the notes' security features. - (IEDE)
* The fictional banknotes in the illustration were designed by Maria Bruggeman; the bridge in the background is based on the old €5 banknote design and was built as a real bridge by Robin Stam