Oops! Millions of French coins must be destroyed due to wrong design

The error will cost up to €1.2 million but the Monnaie de Paris head has blamed ‘the French state’

A view of the logo of the Monnaie de Paris
Head of the French mint the Monnaie de Paris, Marc Schwartz, has said the error was due to a “postponement beyond [my] control”
Published Last updated

Tens of millions of new French coins must be destroyed and replaced after being created with a design that was ultimately rejected by the European Commission (EC).

The Paris mint confirmed that 27 million coins would now need to be destroyed at a cost of between €700,000 to €1.2 million.

The coins were for the denominations of 10, 20, and 50 cents. However, they were minted with a new design that was still being formally considered - but crucially, had not yet been 100% confirmed - by the European Commission.

Later, the design was rejected, leaving the Paris mint with a rather huge pile of unusable coins.

Premature minting

The mistake was all-the-more painful because workers worked four days without a break to produce the coins ‘ahead of schedule’, so they could be presented to Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire on December 7, 2023, during his visit to the Monnaie de Paris headquarters (on Quai de Conti).

Unfortunately, mint president-general Marc Schwartz appeared to have ‘jumped the gun’, and did not take into account that the European Commission has seven days to approve or decline new currency designs.

And on December 1, the EC rejected the new design, on the grounds that it made the European symbol of stars ‘less visible’.

Now, Mr Schwartz has blamed the mistake on a “postponement beyond his control” and placed responsibility on “the French State”. Mr Le Maire has now launched an inquiry into the issue.

The 27 million coins represent 4% of the annual production of the Monnaie de Paris (which is, incidentally, the oldest continuously-running minting institution in the world, having been founded in the year 864).

Round two

Undeterred, Mr Schwartz has already planned a new event to present another new set of minted coins - with the correct design - and has, once again, invited Mr Le Maire to attend.

This time, however, it is expected that Mr Schwartz will await 100% approval and acceptance of the design from the EC before minting a single cent…

Related articles

New French €2 coin issued as euro marks its 20th birthday

French fear ending of one and two centime coins will mean price rises