The number of counterfeit euro coins removed from circulation increased by 17 per cent from 157 000 in 2011 to 184 000 in 2012, the European Commission said on February 11 2013, citing figures from the European Central Bank.
With 16.5 billion genuine euro coins currently in circulation, the counterfeit ratio is one for every 100 000 genuine coins. The two-euro denomination remains by far the most affected by this criminal activity, representing almost two out of every three counterfeit euro coins detected.
As far as counterfeit euro banknotes are concerned, about 531 000 notes were withdrawn from circulation in 2012, according to figures from the European Central Bank which is in charge of protecting banknotes against counterfeiting.
Preventive measures including legislation, technical analysis, law enforcement coordination and judicial cooperation have allowed EU member states to make progress in removing counterfeit euro coins from circulation, the European Commission said.
However, current criminal rules need to be strengthened to improve the prevention, investigation and sanctioning of euro counterfeiting throughout the EU as member states have diverging rules and levels of protection, the Commission said.
Against this background, the Commission adopted on February 5 2013 a proposal for a directive setting minimum rules for sanctions. It will introduce efficient investigative tools and improve prevention by allowing the analysis of counterfeits by the competent authorities, to further enhance the protection of the euro and other currencies by criminal measures, the Commission said. The entry into force of the Regulation on the authentication of euro coins on January 1 2012 setting out the rules for financial institutions to ensure that all euro coins that they put back into circulation are genuine is also a powerful instrument to protect the euro against counterfeiting, the Commission said.