The logo of a current 20 euro banknote. INA FASSBENDER / AFP
The slow process towards reinventing the design of euro banknotes is reaching its second stage. Monday, July 10, the European Central Bank opened an online consultation until August 31, intended for all, to guide the new appearance that banknotes will take. For the moment, it is not a question of choosing between different drawings but simply of testing the opinion of the general public on seven major themes, from which the graphic designers will work.
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The euros have changed little since their introduction in 2002. At the time, the member countries had not succeeded in agreeing on symbolic characters or places, considered too “national”. Should we put the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum or the Brandenburg Gate? Molière, Goethe or Leonardo da Vinci? To put an end to the bell tower quarrels, abstract symbols had been chosen: bridges, windows or arches that do not exist. Two decades later, the single currency is established and popular (with 78% favorable opinion), but the design of the banknotes does not arouse much emotion.
In 2021, Christine Lagarde, President of the ECB, launched the project to reinvent them, “so that Europeans of all ages and backgrounds can more easily identify with it”. A group of independent experts, made up of artists, designers, professors of archeology and history, worked on the subject.
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birds and hands
From their recommendations, seven themes were selected. ” The rivers “, “European culture” (which must allow the choice of monuments or works), “the future belongs to you” (illustrated for example by putting astronauts, suggests the ECB), “the reflection of European values in nature” (for example with images of the European Parliament, supposed to symbolize democracy), ” the birds “, ” hands “ (“theme that celebrates the hands that built Europe”), “our Europe and ourselves” (“each ticket could include an image representing a human singularity”).
The consultation is coupled with a qualitative survey of 23,000 people. At the beginning of 2024, the ECB will select one or two themes, with a view to a design competition for the new banknotes in 2025, and a final choice in 2026. It will then take two to three years to see them in circulation, i.e. 2028 at the earlier. The process should also make it possible to strengthen banknote security, with new anti-counterfeiting tools, and reduce the environmental impact of banknotes, with better recycling.