FRANKFURT: The European Central Bank announced Thursday that it will launch a new series of euro banknotes gradually over the coming years, starting with a new five-euro note in May 2013.
ECB chief Mario Draghi told a news conference here that the current notes, launched on January 1, 2002, would be gradually withdrawn from circulation.
"The European Central Bank and the national central banks of the eurosystem are to introduce a second series of euro banknotes. Called the 'Europa' series, it will include a portrait of Europa -- a figure from Greek mythology and the origin of the name of our continent -- in the watermark and the hologram.
"The new banknotes will be introduced gradually over several years, starting with the five-euro banknote in May 2013," Draghi said.
The new series would benefit from advances in banknote technology since the first series was introduced more than ten years ago. Its security features have been enhanced, the ECB said.
The new banknotes would have the same colours and sames denominations as the the current ones -- five, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros -- but would be "easy to distinguish from the first series."
They would be introduced in ascending order, so that after the five-euro note, the 10-euro bank would follow.
Initially, the first series would circulate alongside the new banknotes, but old notes will gradually be withdrawn and eventually cease to be legal tender.
The date for this would be announced "well in advance."
However, the banknotes of the first series would retain their value indefinitely and can be exchanged at the eurosystem national central banks at any time.
The new five-euro notes would be unveiled in full on January 10 2013 and banks would start to issue the new notes over the counter or via cash dispensers in May next year, the ECB said.