Commemorative – collector euro coins
The introduction of euro coins in January 2002 has generated a variety of coin designs. The euro area countries have put euro coins in circulation with distinctive national symbols on their obverse side. The diversity of the coins' national sides is enhanced with the issuance of commemorative and collector coins by euro area countries.
Commemorative euro coins
Commemorative coins are another coin category officially issued by euro area countries.
Once a year, each country in the euro area may issue a €2 commemorative coin. All commemorative euro coins are intended for circulation.
Commemorative coins, which can only be €2 denomination coins, are legal tender throughout the euro area. This means that they can be used – and must be accepted – just like any other euro coin.
These coins have the same features and properties and the same common side as normal €2 coins. What makes them different is their commemorative design on the national side which commemorates a historical event or a person.
The very first commemorative euro coin was issued in 2004 by Greece on the occasion of the Athens Olympic Games.
The 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome was also commemorated with the issuance of a €2 coin. On 25 March 2007, the finance ministers of euro area countries decided for the first time that all euro area countries would jointly issue a commemorative coin, in addition to the commemorative coins they intended to issue in 2007, with a common design on the national side as well. The design was selected following a competition organised by national mints.
In the context of celebrations for the 10th anniversary of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), all euro area countries issued in January 2009 a new commemorative €2 coin with a common national side. This is the second time that all euro area counties have jointly issued a common commemorative coin. The winning design was created by George Stamatopoulos who is a
sculptor at the Central Bank of Greece.
Collector euro coins
Collector euro coins are officially issued by euro area countries, have a nominal value (face value) and are legal tender, but are not intended for circulation. The face value and the designs of collector coins are always different than those of euro circulation coins.
While euro circulation coins are legal tender throughout the euro area, euro collector coins are legal tender only in their country of issuance. They are rarely used for payment purposes, because their market value is usually much higher than their nominal value and many of them are made out of precious metals such as gold or silver.
To avoid causing confusion to the public, the technical specifications of collector coins are different from those of circulation coins. At least two out of the three technical parameters, namely colour, diameter and weight, need to be different from those of euro circulation coins.
Medals and tokens
In addition to official coins, several national printing works and private mints produce and sell medals and tokens that are not legal tender. The term "medals and tokens" means metallic objects that have the appearance and/or technical properties of a coin, but are not issued under national or participating third country legislative provisions or other foreign legislative provisions and, therefore, are neither a legal means of payment nor legal tender.
The circulation of euro coins in a large number of euro area countries calls for the establishment of a regulation on medals and tokens, similar to euro coins. The purpose of this regulation is to protect the public against fraud and confusion related to euro coins while at the same time establishing a level playing field for the production of such medals and tokens.
Council Regulation (EC) No 2182/2004 concerning medals and tokens similar to euro coins aims at regulating the use of the terms "euro" and "euro cent" and of the euro symbol on metallic objects having the appearance and/or technical properties of coins, and at defining the levels of similarity to euro coins that should be prohibited for medals and tokens.