Euro counterfeiting 'stays low in second half of 2016'

Around 353,000 counterfeit euro banknotes were withdrawn from circulation in the last six months of 2016, a slight increase on the first half but still well down on previous years.

The European Central Bank (ECB) said this morning that the number of counterfeits remains low in comparison with the increasing number of genuine banknotes in circulation – at more than 19 billion.

The decline is attributed in part to the introduction of new security features in the 'Europa' series of notes, along with enforcement operations that have taken out counterfeiting rings. A new €50 note with the enhanced anti-counterfeit features is due to be launched on April 4.

Around 80 per cent of the counterfeits were €20 and €50 banknotes, and during the period the proportion of counterfeit €20 notes rose while that of fake €50 notes decreased. Lower denomination €5 and €10 notes accounted for just 0.5 per cent and 3.7 per cent of the tally, respectively.

The majority (93.6 per cent) of the counterfeits were found in euro area countries, said the ECB. Around 5 per cent were found in EU member states outside the Eurozone with 1 per cent found in other parts of the world.

"All euro banknotes can be verified using the 'feel, look and tilt' method," said the ECB in a statement. "Euro banknotes continue to be a trusted and safe means of payment."

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