Five (surprise) things to know about the European currency

Do two-year coins have a future? Why go on a ticketed pilgrimage to Spijkenisse, the Netherlands? Can we still exchange the Estonian krona? The euro celebrates its 20th anniversary after it was introduced in 12 European countries, including France, on January 1, 2002. Today it was adopted by 19 countries, here are five surprising things to know about the European currency.

Exchange is still possible from old coins to Euro

We find them under a mattress, in grandmother’s furniture, during the renovation of an apartment: all national currencies that preceded the euro are far from gone. In Berlin and the neighboring region of Brandenburg alone, about 2.63 million German marks were in circulation between January and the end of November this year, or about 1.35 million euros.

The Bundesbank assumes that there are still cash holdings nationwide of about 12.35 billion German marks (6.31 billion euros). Some are held by collectors, others are certainly out there, and the mark has always been a popular reserve coin.

There is no limit to the exchange of coins and banknotes from the old national currency to the euro, just like Austria, Ireland or the three Baltic countries. Italy since 2011, France and Greece since 2012 no longer use the old currency.

The end of the 500-euro banknotes, one- and two-cent coins?

Many Europeans have never seen purple before: since 2019, the production of 500-euro banknotes has been stopped by a decision of the European Central Bank. In addition to being little used on a daily basis, this note was suspected of facilitating illegal transactions. However, payment with a 500-euro banknote issued between 2002 and 2019 is still authorized, and as of November there are still about 376 million purple denominations in circulation.

Does a similar fate await the one-cent and two-cent coin? The issue of stopping production of the smallest currencies in the eurozone is regularly on the agenda. These parts are cumbersome for some, and they are expensive to produce. Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, Finland and Italy have already chosen to phase out coins, and have asked merchants to collect their extras.

Banknotes from … zero euros

It has the size, color and design of the banknotes of the European Central Bank: the zero-euro banknote appeared in 2015 and gained great popularity … among coin collectors. The French businessman Richard Vail had the idea of ​​creating tickets that would initially be sold as souvenirs to tourists: on the one hand, they were indicated by a location or monument (Eiffel Tower, Mont Saint-Michel, etc..), on the other hand the zero side followed by the euro sign reminds us that it has no value them.

These banknotes, called the European Central Bank, were printed with the same technical characteristics as the euro: watermark, security thread, inks, hologram or individual security number, the similarity is astounding, but the paper used is different from real banknotes.

Virtual landmarks on tickets to be built is about to be built

To avoid inconveniences, the imaginary buildings rather than the existing monuments illustrate the euro denominations. Since there were no painted bridges, Dutch graphic designer Robin Stamm decided to build them. The municipality of Spijkenisse, near Rotterdam, gave it the go-ahead. From paper 5 to paper 500, the seven “euro bridges” now attract tourists to this city of 70,000 inhabitants.

Nearly 400,000 euros confiscated … in 25 socks

In Europe, the transfer of 10,000 euros or more in cash, coming from or destined for a foreign country, must be declared to customs. In a modern version of “low wool”, a man traveling from France to Spain in April was intercepted by customs officers from Perthus, who found 388,460 euros hidden in 25 socks while checking his German-registered truck.

The packages declared during transit are much larger on average. In 2020, German customs registered 13,335 declarations for a total amount of 31 billion euros, an average of 2.3 million euros per declaration.

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