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Economy and Finance

Legislation against euro-counterfeiting

To protect the euro in the euro area and beyond, EU legislation aims to ensure proper coordination of anti-counterfeiting measures between national authorities and adequate penalties for counterfeiters under national criminal law.

Administrative legislation (prevention and cooperation)

Administrative EU legislation on counterfeiting contains provisions on:

Multidisciplinary cooperation - cooperation between national authorities in EU countries, the Commission, the European Central Bank, non-EU countries and international organisations in the fight against counterfeiting.

Analysis, identification and withdrawal – authorities in EU countries must send counterfeit notes and coins to their national analysis centres for analysis and identification. Furthermore, banks and other credit institutions must withdraw from circulation all euro notes and coins which they suspect to be counterfeit and hand them over to the relevant national authorities.

Authenticity checks – banks and other credit institutions must check the authenticity of all euro notes and coins that they intend to put back into circulation

Medals and tokens - medals and tokens having visual characteristics, size or metal properties which are similar to euro coins should not be sold, produced, imported or distributed for the purpose of sale or for other commercial purposes. There is an increasing risk that medals and tokens having a size and metal properties similar to euro coins may be unlawfully used in the place of euro coins.

Pericles 2020 programme legislation (training)

The 'Pericles 2020' programme is an an exchange, assistance and training programme for the protection of the euro against counterfeiting. It was first established by Council Decision 2001/923/EC for the period 2002-2005 and Amended twice and duration extended to the period 2006-2013. For the period 2014-2020, Regulation (EU) No 331/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council forms the basis.

Legal basis:

Law enforcement legislation (repression)

The Directive 2014/62/EU entered into force on 22 May 2014. This Directive is meant to boost the protection of the euro against counterfeiting by criminal law measures. The Directive replaces Framework Decision 2000/383/JHA and supplements and helps implement the 1929 Geneva Convention on the suppression of counterfeiting. The new measures include tougher sanctions for criminals and improved tools for cross-border investigation.

The Directive obliges Member States to punish:

  • fraudulent making or altering of currency (production of counterfeits)
  • distribution of counterfeit currency
  • making and possessing counterfeiting equipment
  • fraudulent making of notes and coins not yet issued

Expanding upon this, the directive:

  • sets the minimum standard for maximum penalties of imprisonment in Member States: maximum penalty of at least eight years for production and at least five years for distribution of fake notes and coins
  • ensures that special investigative tools that are used for organised crime cases can be used also in serious cases of counterfeiting, thus improving the quality of cross-border investigations
  • makes it possible to analyse seized counterfeits earlier during judicial proceedings, which improves detection of counterfeit euros and prevents their circulation
  • requires Member States to collect data on the number of counterfeiting offences, persons prosecuted and convicted, and transmit these data to the Commission

Legal basis:

Euro Counterfeiting Reports

Based on Article 11 of the Council's framework Decision of 29 May 2000 intended to increase protection by imposing criminal penalties and other sanctions against counterfeiting in connection with the introduction of the euro:

Euro Counterfeiting - 3rd report
Euro Counterfeiting - 2nd report
13 DECEMBER 2001
Euro Counterfeiting - 1st report

Based on Article 12 of the Commission Recommendation of 27 May 2005 concerning authentication of euro coins and handling of euro coins unfit for circulation:

20 MAY 2009
Euro Counterfeiting - Evaluation