In an age dominated by digital transactions, the physicality of cash retains a distinct and enduring relevance. Cash is more than just a tangible representation of wealth; it’s a symbol of the consumer’s right to choice and an embodiment of the inclusive principles that underpin the European financial landscape.

While the allure of contactless payments is not unwarranted, it is also undeniable that the act of exchanging banknotes reflects an age-old trust in tangibility, and therefore cannot simply be disposed of.

National central banks (NCBs) across the eurozone play a pivotal role in upholding this trust. Working in concert with the European Central Bank (ECB), they must ensure that cash remains an accessible and viable payment option for every citizen, regardless of their socioeconomic background or digital proficiency.

By ensuring the continuous availability and acceptance of cash, the Union is not promoting a single method of payment, but safeguarding a fundamental choice – the freedom to use public money in its most direct form. This joint endeavour reinforces a critical message: while Europe embraces the future, it remains steadfastly committed to preserving diverse payment preferences for all its people.

Europe’s common currency

The euro was launched on January 1, 1999. After living its first three years as a digital currency, it became the circulated currency for 12 countries. Today, 29-billion-euro banknotes worth more than €1.5 trillion cover 20 member states and over 346 million Europeans. Euro banknotes are often regarded as the most tangible representation of European integration and a symbol of European unity.

Euro banknotes

Euros come in seven different denominations: €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, and €500. These banknotes are gradually being replaced by the second series, also known as the Europa series, named after a figure from Greek mythology. This was developed to make euro banknotes more durable and less prone to counterfeit.

It is hoped that the future euro notes will more prominently reflect European values and symbols

New design – make your views count

In December 2021, the ECB announced its plans to redesign the euro banknotes. The succeeding months would see the Governing Council and its theme advisory group propose a set of themes, which, in recent weeks, European citizens are being asked to give their opinions on: Birds: free, resilient, inspiring; European culture; European values mirrored in nature; The future is yours; Hands: together we build Europe; Our Europe, ourselves; Rivers: the waters of life in Europe.

The questions asked in the survey seek to capture the overall sentiment on each theme in terms of attractiveness, ‘Europeanness’, relatability, inclusiveness, understanding, and future relevance. The survey will take between five to 10 minutes to complete.

In an address, the president of the ECB, Christine Lagarde urged everyone to take part in this survey, in hope that the future euro notes will more prominently reflect European values and symbols.

To take part in this survey go to this link.

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