The euro (EUR or €) is the common currency for most European nations within the European Union. Euro banknotes and coins (see Euro coins) came into circulation on January 1, 2002, though the Euro itself had been formally established as a unit of exchange on January 1, 1999.
There are seven different denominations, each having a distinctive colour and size. The design for each of them has a common theme of European architecture in various artistic periods. The front (or recto) of the note features windows or gateways while the back (or verso) has bridges. Care has been taken so that the architectural examples do not represent any actual existing monument, so as not to induce jealousy and controversy in the choice of which monument should be depicted.
Common to all notes are the European flag, the initials of the European Central Bank in five versions (BCE, ECB, EZB, ΕΚΤ, EKP), a map of Europe on the back, the name "euro" in both Latin and Greek script and the signature of the current President of the ECB. The 12 stars of the EU are also incorporated into every note, with the design having been created by Austrian artist Robert Kalina.
|Denomination||Dimensions||Dominant Colour||Architecture||Period||Printercode position|
|5 euro | € 5|
|10 euro | € 10|
|20 euro | € 20|
|50 euro | € 50|
|100 euro | € 100|
|200 euro | € 200|
|500 euro | € 500|
Unlike the euro coins, the euro notes do not have a national side indicating where they're from. This information is instead contained within the code on the back of the note. The first letter uniquely identifies the country the note was issued in, the remaining numbers (when added up and the digits of the resulting sum then added together again until a single digit remains) give a checksum also particular to that country. The W, K and J codes have been reserved for the EU member states currently not participating in the euro.
Somewhat hidden on the front of the note is a second, smaller sequence where the first letter identifies the actual printer of the note. The printer code need not coincide with the country code, i.e. notes issued by a particular country may have been printed in another country (e.g. some Finnish notes have in fact been produced by a UK printer). The A, C and S codes have been reserved for printers currently not printing euro banknotes.
|(Bank of England Printing Works)||(Loughton)||(United Kingdom)|
|(AB Tumba Bruk)||(Tumba)||(Sweden)|
|F. C. Oberthur||Chantepie||France|
|Österreichische Banknoten und Sicherheitsdruck||Vienna||Austria|
|Johan Enschedé & Zn.||Haarlem||Netherlands|
|Thomas de la Rue||Gateshead||United Kingdom|
|Central Bank of Ireland||Dublin||Ireland|
|Banque de France||Chamaličres||France|
|Fábrica Nacional de Moneda y Timbre||Madrid||Spain|
|Bank of Greece||Athens||Greece|
|Giesecke & Devrient||Munich & Leipzig||Germany|
|Banque Nationale de Belgique||Brussels||Belgium|
As from 2002, the individual national central banks (NCBs) are responsible for the production of one or two specific banknote denominations and will thus select the printing works. This decentralised pooling scheme means that the NCBs have to exchange the denominations produced in different locations prior to issue.