Brussels rejected Puigdemont’s request; the choice of the portraits on the euro coins lies “with the Member State that issues them”.
In his argument, Puigdemont pointed out that last November the public prosecutor of the Spanish Supreme Court announced the third investigation against Juan Carlos for his alleged money-laundering activities. According to Puigdemont, this is sufficient reason to remove the King’s face from the coins.
Heads and tails
Euro coins have a common side and a national side. The common side is identical in all EU countries, showing the value of the respective currency, the mint side. Each Member State may decide for itself which symbols and text to put on the national side, the so-called head side, of the euro coins. This choice is not revised annually. Change is only permitted if the common side also changes. Monarchies, however, can change the national side when the throne’s incumbent changes.
Avoiding inappropriate designs
“According to European Council Regulation (EU) No 729/2014, ‘inappropriate’ designs on the national side of the euro coins must be avoided, and Member States can object before the designs are approved,” Puigdemont said. He demanded the removal of the King Emeritus’s image.
Puigdemont, a member of the European Parliament (who recently lost his diplomatic immunity) advocates not issuing coins minted with effigies of living personalities. The European Parliament also rejected the proposal because the decision lies with the Member States. They can, however, object to the sketches of the national sides of the coins before they are minted. The Council must then give its final approval (Article 10 of Regulation 729/2014) having heard the Member States.
‘Custom’ in monarchies
If a member state raises an objection, Europe can consider investigating the complaint. However, it will not consider complaints from a specific member of the European Parliament or political group. And that is now the case with the current applicants: Toni Comín, Carles Puigdemont and Clara Ponsatí. “These coins circulate in the whole euro area and not only in the issuing Member State,” the MEPs said. No member state has so far objected to Spain issuing their euro coins ‘as it is customary in European monarchies for the national side to represent the head of state’.
Felipe VI on latest euro coins
Since the abdication of King Juan Carlos I in 2014, new coins bear the image of his son, King Felipe VI. This means that coins bearing the image of Juan Carlos are ‘obsolete’. When they are damaged over the years, they will be withdrawn from circulation according to the natural cycle.