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EU to step up fight against euro counterfeiting

The European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, announced Tuesday a plan to fight euro counterfeiting, and called on banks to check the authenticity of the money they circulate.

Under the commission’s proposal, banks and related businesses are required to ensure the authenticity of euro banknotes and coins before they are put back into circulation. The commission said it is important to obligate financial institutions to check for counterfeit money before re-circulating it, as uniform and effective measures of detection are available nowadays to make checks easy and perfectly feasible.

Currently, European banks do not have to check the money they receive, leaving them open to the risk of putting counterfeit banknotes and coins back into the market. According to a yearly report from the commission, nearly 164,000 counterfeit euro coins were removed from circulation in 2006, most of which were two-euro coins, followed by one-euro and 50-cent denominations.

The commission said that while counterfeiting had increased in 2006, stepped-up efforts by the authorities had brought about the detection of a larger number of counterfeit euro coins. Compared to the 69 billion genuine euro coins in circulation, the number of counterfeits is extremely small, the commission said. Counterfeits have been found throughout the 13-nation euro zone as well as in other EU countries and some third countries. (