Queen's head may be too big for EU coins

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The Independent Online
MOZART, the Eiffel Tower and high-speed trains, such as the Eurostar and the TGV, are expected to be among the European symbols chosen next year for the new Euro notes and coins.

The designs may also feature famous Europeans, flora and fauna, monuments, transport, landscapes and arts and leisure, or abstract geometrical designs. They may include tiny national motifs, but there is unlikely to be room for the Queen's head.

A group of experts, including historians and psychologists, has been working for months on the design of the single currency, trying to find the best group of common European symbols. Following the decision in Madrid on Friday to call the money the Euro, they will be able to finalise their plans.

The European Commission wants the designs to be published as soon as possible in the new year, so it can present the Euro to the public during its forthcoming advertising campaign on the single currency. The coins are expected to be two-tone, like the French 10-franc piece.

To date, however, all discussion of design of the notes has taken place behind closed doors with the expert group under the secretive European Monetary Institute, central-bank-in-waiting, in Frankfurt.

The main problem has been to devise a European look without producing a design so bland that it is rejected by ordinary people. The name Euro is widely seen as extremely vague and John Major has admitted that it lacks any historic resonance.

"It is going to be difficult for the designers," said Virginia Hewitt, curator of bank notes at the British Museum. "Local identity has always been the principle of note designs, whether it be a monument or a coat of arms."

The ability of the experts to produce an acceptable design could have a crucial impact on the overall success of the single currency. "People do have an attachment to their currency," says Dr Hewitt. "They subliminally identify with it, and they always hate change."

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