ECB to introduce new euro banknotes

European Central Bank (ECB) has decided to design new euro banknotes, which will be produced and issued in 2026. More than 20 years have passed since January 1, 2002, when the first euro banknotes were released, and the ECB has started the process of renewing them, even asking for the opinion of European citizens.

The process of redesigning the banknotes has begun with the help of the public and experts before the ECB Governing Council makes the final decision on the new themes.

The ECB has already developed a shortlist of seven proposed themes, which could form the designs of the new banknotes. Citizens were invited to choose the topics of their choice, and according to the ECB, their opinion will be taken seriously.

ECB wants to develop innovative and secure euro banknotes
ECB wants to develop innovative and secure euro banknotes

A time-consuming process

Back in December 2021, the ECB announced its plans to redesign the Euro banknotes, developing new banknotes to ensure they are even more secure, efficient, and sustainable.

“We make sure that banknotes are safe to use by researching the potential impact of euro banknote production and circulation on public health and carrying out scientific examination and testing. We also look at the environmental footprint of banknotes to identify opportunities to reduce their environmental impact via new products and processes. This ensures that euro banknotes and their production processes become as sustainable, green and environmentally friendly as possible,” ECB notes.

“We keep banknotes safe and sustainable” ECB notes

Between December 2021 and March 2022, the ECB spoke to people in all Eurozone countries to hear their views on possible themes for future banknotes.

In late 2021, the ECB established the Theme Advisory Group, an independent, multidisciplinary, and diverse group of experts across the Eurozone, to advise on potential new themes for future banknotes. Based on the data collected in the qualitative study, the team proposed a shortlist of seven themes.

“We are working on a new series of high-tech banknotes to prevent counterfeiting and reduce environmental impact,” said Executive Board member of ECB, Fabio Panetta. “We are committed to cash and to ensuring that paying with public money is always an option.”

Shortlisted themes for future euro banknotes

Birds: free, resilient, inspiring

The theme is inspired by one of the first pieces of EU environmental legislation – the ‘EU Birds Directive’ – which protects all 500 species of wild birds in the region.

European culture

It is a rich and varied mosaic of cultural and creative expression, a legacy from previous generations of Europeans for future generations. The topic is proposed because European culture contributes to the cohesion and well-being of Eurozone societies.

European values mirrored in nature

The theme represents the six values ​​of the European Union (EU) as defined in the Treaty of Lisbon: human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law, and human rights. The theme also illustrates the connection between European citizens and respect for nature and the environment.

The future is yours

The theme focuses on Europeans and their potential to shape Europe’s future with their ideas and vision. It celebrates every European’s skills and visions in fields ranging from science and technology to art.

Hands: Together, we build Europe

The theme is inspired by the EU motto: “United in diversity,” representing all the people who created Europe. It will represent the six values ​​of the EU: human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, rule of law, and human rights, expressed by images of hands.

Our Europe, ourselves

The theme celebrates European people’s individual and collective lives based on six actions: being, doing, thinking, loving, communicating, and living.

Rivers: the waters of life in Europe

European landscapes inspire the theme and combine the natural wonders of Europe with the broader themes of interconnectedness and sustainability.

“We make sure that cash is accepted everywhere” ECB notes

Timeline for the new designs

Europeans were invited to express preferences on these shortlisted themes in the public survey, open until 31 August 2023. The results of the research will be processed by the Governing Council of the ECB, which will choose 2024 as the future theme to be depicted on the new euro banknotes.

This will be followed by selecting motifs for the specific theme, and the design competition will be announced. Then, the shortlist of themes will be set, and there will again be a public consultation to choose the preferred ones. The aim is that in 2026, the ECB’s Board of Directors will make the final selection of the new Euro banknotes so that their theme and design will express all Europeans.

George Mavridis is a freelance journalist and writer based in Greece. His work primarily covers tech, innovation, social media, digital communication, and politics. He graduated from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki with a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication. Also, he holds an MA in Media and Communication Studies from the Malmö University of Sweden and an MA in Digital Humanities from the Linnaeus University of Sweden.