The overall number of counterfeit coins is very small by comparison to the total number of around 16 billion genuine euro coins put into circulation of the three highest denominations (50c, 1€, 2€). This corresponds to 1 counterfeit for every 100 000 genuine coins.
Algirdas Šemeta, EU Commissioner responsible for Anti-Fraud said: "Shopkeepers, small businesses and citizens are particularly at risk of receiving fake coins and notes. Fighting counterfeit money is therefore crucial to protect honest taxpayers. I am very happy that the euro is well protected through the work of OLAF. We will continue our efforts to detect illegal money and root out these illegal activities across Europe."
A comprehensive set of preventive and detection measures in Member States and at EU level have yielded good results in the fight against euro counterfeiting. These include legislation, technical analysis and cooperation, law enforcement coordination, as well as judicial cooperation. Counterfeit coins can also be rejected by properly adjusted vending and other coin-operated machines.
These measures reflect efforts and progress made by Member States and the EU institutions to detect and remove counterfeit euro coins from circulation. To assist these efforts, the European Parliament and the Council adopted a Regulation which entered into force on 1 January 2012 setting the rules for financial institutions to ensure that all euro coins they put back into circulation are genuine.
As far as counterfeit euro banknotes are concerned, around 606 000 pieces were withdrawn from circulation in 2011, as announced by the European Central Bank which is in charge of protecting banknotes against counterfeiting. The overall number of counterfeit notes taken out of circulation in 2011 was 19.3% lower compared to 2010. The most counterfeited denominations continue to be 20 euro and 50 euro bills.
The Commission runs the Pericles Programme which is an exchange, assistance and training programme specifically designed for the purpose of tackling euro counterfeiting. In 2011, the Commission/OLAF carried out 16 projects for the protection of euro banknotes and coins against counterfeiting under the programme. These were mainly conferences and seminars targeted at representatives of national law enforcement agencies, national central banks authorities, commercial banks, money exchange offices, and judicial authorities. The projects aimed at providing technical, scientific and operational assistance, delivering specialised professional training, improving cooperation between competent authorities and raising awareness on the counterfeiting of the euro. These activities should be continued under the Pericles 2020 programme which has been proposed by the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council in December 2011.
Under EU rules (Regulation EC 1338/2001), the Commission is responsible for the European Technical & Scientific Centre (ETSC). The ETSC analyses and classifies new stamped counterfeit euro coins. It is established in OLAF and uses the technical equipment and installations of the Monnaie de Paris.
The Commission also collaborates closely with the European Central Bank (ECB), Europol, Interpol and the competent national authorities. The European Central Bank is responsible for analysing counterfeit euro banknotes. Europol and Interpol support the Member States’ law enforcement services in combating serious organised crime by facilitating the exchange of information and providing operational and strategic analysis.
For more information, see: http://ec.europa.eu/anti_fraud/pages_euro/index_en.html
Homepage of Commissioner Algirdas Šemeta, EU Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-fraud Commissioner: