An economic and political union comprised of 27 European countries, the European Union has established a single market, allowing free movement of residents, goods, and services. The single market also aims to legislate and maintain trade, fisheries, regional development, and agricultural policies.
Since the 1960s, it was the European Union’s aim to establish a monetary unit for the European Economic Community members. Finally, in 1999, after negotiations due to United Kingdom’s opposition, the euro currency was established under the Maastricht Treaty. In 2002, banknotes and coins began circulating, replacing the national currencies of the EU members.
Banknotes ranging from 5 to 500 euros are issued by the European Central Bank and printed in various member countries. Although they vary in color schemes and sizes, the banknotes bear the same design across the entire Eurozone. They also carry complex security elements such as invisible ink, optically variable ink, watermarks, holograms, and micro printing of their authenticity. Unlike euro coins that carry the name of the issuing country, the issuing country of a note can be identified by the first character of its serial number.
In 2002, the first euro series was introduced, showcasing Robert Kalina’s design with the theme “Ages and Styles of Europe”. The banknotes focus on the architectural styles of seven eras of the cultural history of Europe, highlighting windows and gateways on the obverse, and bridges on the reverse.
On January 10, 2013, the “Europa” issues were unveiled retaining the “Ages and Styles” design but with new and improved security features. The series got its name from the Greek mythological figure “Europa” which is displayed on the notes’ watermark and hologram. While the “Ages and Styles” banknotes use country codes, the “Europa” series uses printing codes at the upper right on its obverse. The initial character identifies the printing facility. 302