Euro notes and coins celebrate 10 years  Share

A new €2 coin was released at the start of 2012, issued by all euro zone countries to commemorate 10 years of euro notes and coins in circulation. The date of 1 January 2002 was the day of the euro, when 12 countries began using the single currency. Since then five other nations have joined the economic and monetary union, bringing the number of people now using the euro to 330 million.

In spring 2011, the European Commission held a contest to design a commemorative coin celebrating the 10th anniversary of euro notes and coins. Citizens of all euro zone countries were invited to submit a design via a specially-created website over a three-week period. A professional jury selected five of the more than 800 designs submitted. Then, each euro zone resident was allowed to vote online for one of the five candidates. Maybe you were one of the 35,000 who voted? Ultimately, voters chose the design of Helmut Andexlonger, a professional Austrian currency designer who garnered 35% of the vote.

the new common commemorative coin (2012)

the new common commemorative coin (2012)

Helmut Andexlonger’s winning design symbolises the role of the euro in everyday life (represented by the people in the design) and its worldwide success over the past 10 years (the globe with the € symbol); it also underlines the importance of the euro in trade (ship), industry (factory) and energy (wind turbines). The new €2 commemorative coin is being issued by all euro zone member countries. Each coin bears the name of the issuing country at the top of the design. Below the image are the dates 2002-2012.

This is the third time that all of the euro zone countries have issued a common commemorative coin. The first appeared in March 2007 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. The second commonly issued commemorative coin was minted in January 2009 to mark the 10th anniversary of Economic and Monetary Union and the introduction of the euro as a scriptural currency. These commemorative coins have a value of €2 and may be used throughout the euro zone. Around 90 million of these new coins were issued.

earlier commonly issued commemorative coins

earlier commonly issued commemorative coins

Alongside these commemorative coins, each euro zone country may issue a national €2 commemorative coin once a year. Individual countries, rather than the European Central Bank, are responsible for designing and issuing euro coins. When a euro zone country wants to issue a new design, such as a commemorative coin, it must notify the European Commission and the other European Union member states. Only €2 coins may be used for commemorative purposes, and they have the same characteristics and the same reverse side as the usual €2 coins; the national obverse side is used for the commemorative theme. These coins are legal tender throughout the euro zone and typically honour a historical event or a current event of historical importance. The first commemorative coin was issued by Greece in 2004 to mark the Athens Olympic Games. Furthermore, within each euro zone member state, the rule is that commemorative coins may only be issued once a year. However, in exceptional cases countries may mint a second coin, but only if the coin is issued jointly and commemorates an event important to the entire euro zone.

Like most euro zone countries, Belgium has also issued a few commemorative coins. The first, in 2005, paid tribute to the Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union, which is why the coin bears the likenesses of King Albert II and Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg. Another coin commemorated the reopening of the Atomium in 2006 and featured an image of the famous landmark. The third, in 2008, celebrated – like many other countries – the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The following year, the fourth heralded the 200th anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille, and in 2010 a special coin celebrated Belgium’s EU Council presidency. The most recent commemorative coin featured two women: Isala Van Diest and Marie Popelin, respectively the first female physician and the first female lawyer in Belgium, chosen to mark 100 years of International Women’s Day.

Belgian commemorative coins

Belgian commemorative coins

In addition to the commonly and nationally issued commemorative coins, there are also some atypical coins with a face value different from those in regular circulation. For example, the Netherlands has issued nine €5 coins and three €10 coins. These coins are also legal tender, but only in the issuing country. Lastly, certain countries have made collector’s pieces available for sale. One striking example is the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra coin, with a value of €100,000. However, these coins are not accepted as a means of payment.

GREET DE LATHAUWER
Museum Guide

Bibliography