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ECB to Choose Between Culture and Nature for New Note Design

Only two more years until the final dénouement.

It’s owls and the Danube vs. Mozart and Picasso in the showdown of the century.

The European Central Bank said on Thursday it has boiled down its shortlist for what to put on the next generation of euro banknotes to two themes: “birds and rivers” and “European culture.”

The choice, which confirms what POLITICO reported in September, was taken on the basis of two surveys of the public. In one, commissioned by the ECB and conducted by research firm Kantar, “European culture” was the most popular theme, gaining approval from 21 percent of a 23,000-strong sample, followed by rivers (18 percent) and birds (17 percent).

The central bank decided to merge the two themes of birds and rivers in the final shortlist.

“We wanted to reflect the preference of the survey results as broadly as possible,” an ECB spokesperson said, pointing out that both themes refer “to nature and the environment.”

In a broader survey conducted online by the ECB, in which 365,000 people participated, birds had come out on top with support from one-third of respondents, well ahead of culture (23 percent) and rivers (16 percent).

However, the ECB warned that its survey was subject to bias, as it was “potentially influenced by media articles and influencers’ posts that encouraged people to participate.” Moreover, it added, respondents were likely to be younger tech-savvy people, who were arguably not representative of the whole eurozone population.

“Both of the chosen themes share a common thread of connecting Europe and Europeans, and this is very much in keeping with our goal of making banknotes more relatable to people of all ages and backgrounds,” ECB President Christine Lagarde said in a press release.

Lagarde announced plans for new banknotes in 2021, seeking something more identifiable than the abstract series of bridges and windows that have adorned the notes since the launch of the euro.

The ECB originally drew up a long list of seven themes with the help of an independent research company. Birds were selected to symbolize the absence of borders and freedom of movement at the core of the EU, while rivers were supposed to represent “the ebb and flow of a dynamic, ever-changing continent,” the bank said in July.

After the bulk of themes failed to inspire much enthusiasm, the ECB’s Governing Council added “cultural themes,” featuring the faces or works of the continent’s great composers, writers or artists, to the list.

An advisory group will now propose motifs for the selected themes by the end of 2024. A competition to design the new banknotes will follow and there will be yet more surveys on the design options after that. The ECB is expected to decide on the final design and issue the new banknotes in 2026.

Source: Politico