Published: 10.07.2023 Updated: 31.08.2023

The first euro banknotes were introduced on 1 January 2002. Now, more than 20 years later, we are preparing for a future banknote series. The decision on when to launch the new series will be made at a later stage. 


The redesign process

In December 2021 the Eurosystem announced its plans to redesign euro banknotes, which are part of the process for developing new ones. We want to ensure banknotes remain available and accessible and continue to be a secure and efficient means of payment.

We also want the banknotes to be as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible. This is why we are looking at their environmental footprint to identify opportunities to reduce their environmental impact via new products and processes. The process is also an opportunity to make banknotes more inclusive for all Europeans.

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. The decision takes into account the results of surveys conducted in the summer of 2023, published in a report today, for the European public to express their preferences from seven shortlisted themes.

In the survey commissioned by the ECB, “European culture” was most popular (21%) amongst euro area citizens, followed by “Rivers: the waters of life in Europe” (18%) and “Birds: free, resilient, inspiring” (17%). The survey comprised a representative sample of 23,377 Europeans.

The next major milestone in the process is to implement the design phase including the selection of possible motifs and a design contest.

We will continue to involve Europeans and relevant experts. Our aim is to ensure the theme and designs selected are relatable for all Europeans.

Main steps in the redesign process

Infographic: redesign process of euro banknotes

Listening to Europeans

Between December 2021 and March 2022 we asked people in all the euro area countries plus Bulgaria to tell us their opinions on possible themes for future euro banknotes.

Take a look at what was said in the qualitative study on new themes for euro banknotes.

Consulting the experts

End 2021 we established the Theme Advisory Group, an independent, multidisciplinary, and diverse group of experts from all over the euro area, to give advice on possible new themes for future banknotes. Based on the input collected in the qualitative study, the group proposed a shortlist of themes. The ECB’s Governing Council then carefully considered whether the shortlisted themes are relatable to Europeans and represent European life and values, and decided to add a seventh theme, “European culture”.

Birds: free, resilient, inspiring” is inspired by one of the earliest pieces of EU legislation on the environment – the “EU Birds Directive” – that protects all 500 of the area’s wild bird species.

“European Culture” is a rich and diverse mosaic of cultural and creative expression, an inheritance from previous generations of Europeans and a legacy for those to come. European culture contributes to the cohesion and welfare of our societies.

European values mirrored in nature” represents the six values of the European Union (EU) as defined in the Treaty of Lisbon: human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law, and human rights. The theme also depicts our connection with and respect for nature and the environment.

The future is yours” focuses on Europeans and their potential to shape the future of Europe with their ideas and vision. It celebrates each and every European, and their skills and visions, in fields ranging from science and technology to art.

Hands: together we build Europe” is inspired by the EU motto: “United in diversity” and represents all the people who have created Europe. It will represent the six values of the EU: human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law, and human rights, expressed through images of hands.

Our Europe, our selves” celebrates the individual and collective lives of the people in Europe based on six actions: being, doing, thinking, loving, communicating and living.

Rivers: the waters of life in Europe” is inspired by European landscapes and combines the natural wonders of Europe with the broader themes of interconnectedness and sustainability.

In summer 2023 we conducteda public survey to ask Europeans of all ages and backgrounds to express their opinions on the shortlisted themes.

What’s next?

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 produce new banknotes has been taken, it will still be several years before the first banknotes are issued.


All central banks regularly upgrade their banknotes or develop new ones to deter counterfeiters. The first series of euro banknotes was introduced over 20 years ago and the second series started entering into circulation in 2013. We are now in the process of developing future euro banknotes. This is an opportunity to make them also more attractive, relatable and inclusive for all Europeans, including people with a visual impairment.

We also want euro banknotes to be as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible, so we are looking at opportunities to reduce their environmental impact.

The euro banknotes are a tangible, visible symbol of European unity and it is our responsibility to keep them up to date. As part of the regular development process, 20 years after the introduction of the first euro banknotes it is time to review their design. In line with the Eurosystem cash strategy we aim to develop attractive euro banknotes which European citizens can identify with.

It takes several years to develop new banknotes, produce them and get them into circulation throughout the euro area. New banknotes are usually put in circulation approximately every ten to fifteen years to further improve security and resilience and stay ahead of counterfeiters. It is important to start the development process early enough to be prepared once a decision is made to launch a new series.

  1. Selecting a future theme for euro banknotes
    • We commissioned a study to consult European citizens in focus groups about their views on possible future themes. The results served as input for the subsequent steps.
    • The ECB Governing Council shortlisted seven themes, including six proposals from the Theme Advisory Group (a group of experts nominated by the national central banks of the Eurosystem and appointed by the ECB).
    • European citizens have the opportunity to express their preferences on the seven shortlisted themes.
    • The ECB Governing Council will then choose the new theme from among the seven shortlisted themes, taking into account the results of the survey.
    • The ECB Governing Council is expected to decide on the new theme by 2024.
  2. Developing new designs for euro banknotes
    • Once the ECB’s Governing Council has selected a new theme, work will start on selecting possible motifs and preparing a design contest.
    • European citizens will be given the opportunity to express their opinions on a shortlist of designs.
    • The ECB Governing Council is expected to decide on the new design in 2026.

After the redesign of the euro banknotes is complete, the ECB Governing Council will decide when to produce and issue them. It will still take some years after that for the new banknotes to enter into circulation and eventually end up in our pockets.

The different denominations of the current euro banknotes series were introduced gradually over several years. No decision has been made yet on when and how future euro banknotes would be introduced into circulation.

We invite all Europeans to take part in our online survey on future euro banknote themes.

In parallel to the online survey, a research company will conduct a similar multi-country survey to ensure the best possible representation of the European population.

Our euro banknotes are printed on cotton-fibre paper, which gives them their special crispness and wear-and-tear resistance. We are constantly exploring ways to improve the lifetime and reduce the environmental footprint of euro banknotes.

We are working on the basis of keeping the current denominations (€5, €10, €20, €50, €100 and €200). The sizes and the colours will also most likely remain as those of the current banknotes, to facilitate the changeover and limit the costs of adapting banknote handling machines.

The final decision will be made by the ECB Governing Council, based on the views of the European public and the input of expert groups. The decisions of the Governing Council will be announced on the ECB website throughout the process in due course.

The ECB and the national central banks of the Eurosystem have regular contacts with all stakeholders. Regular consultations with the European Blind Union took place during the development of the current banknote series, have continued since then and will continue throughout the redesign process.