Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2006-09-26-Speech-2-338"

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"Mr President, the protection of the euro against counterfeiting is very important in terms of maintaining the citizens’ confidence in the single currency. I agree with everything that Mr Kallas has said. Between January and June of this year, 300 000 counterfeit notes were withdrawn from circulation. Of all the counterfeit notes withdrawn during the first half of this year, 44% were 20 euro notes and 36% were 50 euro notes, which means that there has been a significant increase in the counterfeiting of 20 euro notes. Twelve per cent of all counterfeit notes were 100 euro notes, while 500 euro notes represented just 1%. In short, Mr President, I very much agree with the proposal. It is of crucial importance that the Community legislator ensure that the extension of the programme be properly linked both to the financial perspective and to the introduction of the euro in the new States. The Council is postponing the Pericles decision until a final agreement has been adopted on the financial perspective for 2007-2013; we entirely agree that it should conform to the financial perspective, with an annual budget of EUR 1 million. For all of these reasons, I recommend that, under these conditions, the European Parliament approve the Commission's proposals, modifying and extending the Pericles programme. I would like to say one more thing, Mr President. I wish to protest at the change of time for this debate. I have not been consulted and I have not been given any explanation. I should have been with the victims of terrorism from my country, but I am here out of respect for all of you. When I finish my speech, I shall leave to be with them and I would like to offer all of you, and you in particular, Mr Kallas, the apologies that you deserve - apologies such as I, for my part, was not given. I hope that you understand my reasons for having to leave. The introduction of the euro as a single currency was a huge challenge. The dollar, as a currency of a transnational nature, a reserve currency and a currency of global transaction, is presently the most counterfeited currency. Unfortunately, the euro shares these features with the dollar, though to a lesser extent, and that is why, since its birth, we have had to adopt and adapt many measures aimed at preventing its counterfeiting. The Pericles programme is intended to support and complement the actions introduced by the Member States and by the existing programmes for protecting the euro by means of exchanges, assistance and training with a view to protecting our single currency against counterfeiting. As we know, the programme was established by means of the Council Decision of 17 December 2001, which stated that assessment reports on the programme must be presented, accompanied by a proposal on its continuation or adaptation. The first report was published and presented to Parliament and the Council on 30 November 2004. Then, on 8 April, the Commission presented a proposal on the basis of which the Council extended the programme to 2006, providing it with a budget of EUR 1 million and requiring a detailed report on the results of the programme to be presented to Parliament and the Commission. With regard to assessment, Pericles has made a very clear positive contribution to the protection of the euro and the fight against counterfeiting. Its continuation is therefore fully justified. In particular, the perception of the Community dimension of the euro has been improved and it has given the participants a better understanding of the legislation and instruments available; an overall commitment of 80% of the initial reference sum during the period 2002-2006 has been achieved; 64 projects have been implemented involving 76 countries; the effective complementarity of national and Community actions has been emphasised − 48 of the 64 initiatives emerged from the Member States, while 16 came from the Commission or OLAF; the programme has taken on an international dimension, with the involvement not just of all of the Members States and those about to join, but also of other non-EU countries in which the production of counterfeit banknotes is widespread, such as Colombia; considerable structural improvements have been made, with the creation and establishment in several countries of national central offices responsible for combating the counterfeiting of the currency; and there has been systematic involvement of the European Central Bank and other organisations, such as Europol, OLAF and Interpol. The results of the Pericles programme so far are hopeful, as indicated in the six-monthly report of the European Central Bank on the counterfeiting of the euro. It is becoming increasingly difficult to counterfeit our currency. The data corresponding to the first six months of this year show that the proportion of counterfeit banknotes is falling in relation to the increase in the number of genuine notes put into circulation. As the Commissioner has already said, 50 000 notes of our currency are counterfeited each month, while there are 9 000 million genuine notes in circulation."@en1

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