New euro banknote launched


European Central Bank president Mario Draghi announced a new series of euro banknotes that use an image from Greek mythology to improve security.

The banknotes featuring Europa, the Phoenician princess abducted by Zeus who gave the continent its name, will be introduced gradually over several years, starting with a €5 note in May 2013, Mr Draghi said in Frankfurt today. Europa will appear in the watermark and hologram on the notes.

Central banks typically redesign their banknotes on a regular basis to improve security and prevent counterfeiting.

Europa will replace architectural images in the watermark. Using a face rather than a structure may make it harder for forgers to produce fakes.

"Portraits have long been used in banknotes around the world and research has shown that people tend to remember faces," Mr Draghi said.

"Is there any better figure than Europa to serve as the new face of the euro?"

The first series of banknotes, launched 10 years ago, will initially circulate alongside the second series before being gradually withdrawn and eventually ceasing to be legal tender, the ECB said.

"The date when this occurs will be announced well in advance," it said.

Still, the old banknotes will retain their value indefinitely and can be exchanged at national central banks at any time.