Altogether 604 counterfeit euro banknotes, 86 or 16.6 percent more than in 2016, were withdrawn from circulation in Estonia in 2017.
The number of counterfeit euro coins withdrawn from circulation in Estonia during the year was 74, roughly as many as in 2016. The counterfeits encountered the most often were 50 euro notes, of which 486 were detected, the Estonian central bank said.
Compared with the total number of euro notes in circulation, the number of counterfeits is small both in Estonia and the eurozone in general, the central bank added.
Across the EU, some 363,000 counterfeit euro banknotes were withdrawn from circulation in the second half of 2017, an increase of 9.7 percent when compared with the first half of 2017 and 2.8 percent more than in the second half of 2016, the European Central Bank said.
Most of the counterfeits, 97.8 percent, were found in euro area countries. Around 1.7 percent were found in EU member states outside the euro area and 0.5 percent were found in other parts of the world.
Around 85 percent of the counterfeits were 20 euro and 50 euro banknotes.
The ECB stressed that euro banknotes continue to be a trusted and safe means of payment.
The likelihood of receiving a counterfeit is very slight. The number of counterfeits remains very low compared with the number of genuine banknotes in circulation, which has risen steadily, at rates above GDP growth, since they were introduced. In 2017, for instance, the number and value of euro banknotes in circulation grew by around 5.9 percent and 4.0 percent respectively. There are now well over 21 billion euro banknotes in circulation, with a total value of more than 1.1 trillion euros.
In the first half of 2019, the Eurosystem plans to issue simultaneously the new 100 euro and 200 euro banknotes, the last two denominations of the Europa series. The Eurosystem will conduct a campaign to inform the public and professional cash handlers about the introduction of these new banknotes, which both carry some new security features. Banknote equipment manufacturers and other suppliers will continue to receive support from the Eurosystem in adapting their machines and authentication devices to the new banknotes.
Editor: Dario Cavegn