By CoinWeek ….
In November 2023, the Monnaie de Paris had to destroy 27 million freshly struck 10-, 20-, and 50-cent euro coins that featured a new national design on the obverse because the reverse did not conform to the standards of the eurozone. But the actual cause of this costly mistake may have more to do with mismanagement than with bad numismatic artwork.
A Glitch in the Coin Design Approval Process
Twenty members of the or EU use the euro, which is the common currency of the EU. Countries like France who issue their own euro coinage are free to redesign the obverse or national side of their own coins once in a 15-year period. All such coins are legal tender within the entire eurozone and circulate around Europe. Whenever a country wishes to redesign its coins, it must follow a formal approval process that involves submitting new designs to the European Commission and waiting up to seven days for the commission’s feedback. If there is a problem with the design, then the Commission informs the mint, corrections are made, and the updated design is resubmitted to the process.
In the case of the 2023 French coins, the Monnaie de Paris submitted their new design to the Commission in November. Upon inspection, the Commission found the stars of the European flag on the reverse (which is common to all eurozone coinage) to be “difficult to read”, and therefore informed the Monnaie de Paris that corrections would need to be made. Unfortunately, the mint had decided to strike the coins before it had received any official response or objections.
In its reporting on the issue, French website La Lettre claims that Marc Schwartz, CEO of Monnaie de Paris, hurried up the mint’s production schedule and ignored the Commission’s seven-day moratorium so that coins with the new design would be ready in time for a visit by Bruno Le Maire, France’s Minister of Economy and Finance. For his part, Schwartz blames the French Government for the error.
The French Treasury officially submitted a new, corrected design to the European Commission on December 12, 2023, and the Commission approved this correction nine days later on Dec. 21. The updated designs have not been revealed to the public.
What Will It Cost?
The Monnaie de Paris is responsible for the production of all circulating and numismatic coins in France, and the destroyed 27 million coins represent approximately 4% of the mint’s annual production.
Similarly to how the United States Mint is financially self-sufficient, the Monnaie de Paris has operated separately from the French Government since 2007. None of the costs incurred by the destruction of the coins or their subsequent recoining will be passed on to the French taxpayer. Instead, the bungle will have to be paid for out of the mint’s previously allotted operating budget. These costs are estimated to run from between 700,000 and 1.2 million euros.
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