Stay tuned with CashEssentials news ! - beyond payments
By subscribing, you accept our Privacy Policy.

ECB Selects “European Culture” and “Rivers and Birds” for Future Euro Banknotes

Categories : Cash connects people, Cash is a symbol of national sovereignty
December 6, 2023
Tags : Banknotes, Design, ECB, Euro
The European Central Bank is preparing the next euro banknote series more than 20 years after it launched the first banknotes on 1 January 2002. “European culture” and “Rivers and birds” were chosen as possible themes.
Guillaume Lepecq

Chair, CashEssentials

This post is also available in: Spanish

The Banknote Redesign Process

The banknote redesign process started in December 2021, when the European Central Bank (ECB) conducted qualitative research to provide insights that could help define the new theme. The study concluded that six themes had clear and widespread resonance for participants of all nationalities and age groups: nature, monuments and landmarks, portraits, European values, science and progress, and art. A Theme Advisory Group (TAG) with one expert from each euro area country, drawn from diverse fields such as history, natural and social sciences, the visual arts and technology, has submitted a shortlist of 7 themes to the ECB’s Governing Council.

The seven themes recommended by the TAG are:

Widespread Public Consultation

The ECB invited the European public to express their preferences in two separate surveys conducted in the summer of 2023. The results were published in a report on November 30.

The first survey was carried out by Kantar Public, an independent research company, between June 20 and August 7, 2023. A representative sample of 23,377 respondents were interviewed in the 20 euro area countries and Bulgaria (the following country on its path to adopting the euro). The three themes identified as most preferred  are as follows:

  • “European culture” (selected by 21% of euro area citizens)
  • “Rivers: the waters of life in Europe” (chosen by 18% of euro area citizens)
  • “Birds: free, resilient, inspiring” (selected by 17% of euro area citizens)

The remaining four themes are much less prevalent. Only 13% and 12% of Euro area citizens prefer the “European values mirrored in nature” and “Hands: together we build Europe” themes. Meanwhile, “The future is yours” and “Our Europe, ourselves” are the least preferred themes, with 10% and 9% of euro area citizens, respectively, rating them as their favourite option for the future euro banknotes.

A second online public survey using the same questionnaire was launched alongside the Kantar Public survey. A record number of more than 365,000 – valid responses to this survey were received between July 10 and August 31 2023. It should be noted that the results of the ECB online survey are not representative of the euro area population. The ECB online survey results indicate that the preferred themes  are:

  • “Birds: free, resilient, inspiring” (34%),
  • “European culture” (23%)
  • “Rivers: the waters of life in Europe” (16%).

The remaining four themes are much less prevalent. “European values mirrored in nature” is the favourite option for just 10% of respondents in the euro area. Meanwhile, only 8%, 6% and 5% of the population respectively cite “The future is yours”, “Hands: together we build Europe”, and “Our Europe, ourselves” as their favourite option for the future euro banknotes.

Two Possible Themes: ‘Rivers and Birds’ and ‘European Culture’

To reflect the public’s preferences as broadly as possible, the Governing Council approved combining “Rivers: the Waters of Life in Europe” and “Birds: free, resilient, inspiring” into a single nature-related theme. As a result, the Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) selected “European culture” and “Rivers and birds” as the possible themes to choose from for future euro banknotes.

“We are very happy with the strong participation in our online survey,” said ECB President Christine Lagarde. “Both of the chosen themes share a common thread of connecting Europe and Europeans, and this is very much in keeping with our goal of making banknotes more relatable to people of all ages and backgrounds.”

The Governing Council established an advisory group to propose motifs for the selected themes by the end of 2024. After that, a competition to design the new banknotes will be held, and European citizens will again have the chance to express their preferences on the design options.

“Banknotes are a symbol of our European unity, now and in the future. We are committed to ensuring that everyone can choose how they pay, be it using cash or digital payments,” said Executive Board member Piero Cipollone.

The ECB is expected to decide on the final designs and when to produce and issue the new banknotes in 2026. Once a decision to make new banknotes has been taken, it will still be several years before the first banknotes are issued.


This post is also available in: Spanish