The euro (symbol €) is the official currency of the European Union. To date it has been officially adopted by 16 of its member states plus Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican City. The euro was officially launched on the 1st of January 1999, firstly as a virtual currency and then 3 years later, the coins and banknotes were introduced. Having joined the European Union, Malta was committed to join the eurozone once it meets the Maastricht Criteria. On 1st of January 2008, Malta adopted the single European currency, the Euro.
Malta’s Euro Adoption Timelines
On 1 May 2004, Malta together with 9 other European countries joined the European Union. One year later, on 2 May 2005, Malta joined the Exchange Rate Mechanism II (ERMII) which is considered as the ‘waiting room’ for the euro adoption. On same date, back then Maltese Lira, was irrevocably fixed at a rate of €1 = Lm0.429300. On 27 February 2007, Malta asked the EU commission to formally examine the country’s euro convergence and on 16 May 2007, the ECB’s and EU Commission’s convergence report was published which revealed that Malta was ready to adopt the Euro.
Dual pricing became mandatory as of 1 July 2007. Nine days later, on 10 July, 2007, Malta got the final approval from the ECOFIN that it was ready to adopt the euro at the above mentioned conversion rate. Mintage of the Maltese euro coins started soon after at Monnaie de Paris, France. Approximately 200 million coins were minted for the changeover.
‘Sub-frontloading’ and the sale of the euro starter kits for retailers started on 1 December, 2007. On the same day, the Central Bank of Malta released the first official euro set which was presented in a wooden box. On the 10th of the same month mini-starter kits for the general public were made available.
On 1 January 2008, Malta adopted the euro as its official currency, as a result, from midnight, ATMs started to dispense euro banknotes and accounts denominated in the Maltese lira were automatically converted into euro. Till the end of January of the same year, payments could be done both in euro or Maltese lira, however, change was given only in euro to ease the changeover.
The 31 January, 2008 marks the end of the dual circulation and thereby the Maltese lira ceased to be a legal tender, however, coins and banknotes could still be exchanged at local banks, free of charge till the end of March, 2008. Now, they can only be exchanged at the Central Bank of Malta and at a charge. Coins denominated in Lm are exchangeable till 1 February 2010, whereas, banknotes till 31 January 2018.
Maltese Euro Design – Selection Process
The selection of the coins’ design was decided by a public consultation in two rounds. The first round of the consultation process started on 14 January 2006 and ended on 29 January 2006. During this period the Maltese public could participate in the process by choosing from a total of twelve options, divided into four design themes; Prehistoric Malta, Renaissance Malta, the Maltese Identity and the Maltese Archipelago. Three different options were presented for each theme and the public could vote by SMS.
The results for the first round of voting were the Baptism of Christ in St John’s Co-Cathedral (3498 votes), Malta’s Coat of Arms (2742 votes) and Mnajdra Temple Altar (1872 votes). Another design, the Fort St. Angelo option, received 2037 votes, but was not included as one of the three chosen options, since the Baptism of Christ received the most votes in that theme.
Along with the visual design options, the public was given the opportunity to send suggestions on other possible themes which were not presented in the voting selection.
The Steering Committee for the adoption of the euro ultimately decided to include the most popular suggestion, the Maltese Cross, with the three chosen by the public. These four finalists were then sent Noel Galea Bason (designer) and four designs were rendered for the second round of voting.
During the second phase, running from 29 May until 9 June 2006, the public was asked to choose the actual designs for the euro coins from the four mock ups produced by the designer. The three designs with the highest number of votes would then become the final design for the Maltese face of the euro coin set. The results of the second round were the Maltese Cross (36%), followed by the Coat of Arms of Malta (26%) and the Mnajdra Temples (21%). The Central Bank of Malta released the final designs of the euro coins on 19 February 2007 and on 23 October 2007, the designs were officially published in the Official Journal of the European.
Malta switched to the euro on the 1 January 2008. Celebrations were held in various places around the island. In preparation for the euro changeover celebrations, streets of Valletta were covered with carpets depicting euro coins. Celebrations reached climax on New Year’s Eve with a firework display near the Grand Harbour area. Precisely at mid-night, Prime Minister Dr. Lawrence Gonzi withdrew the first euro banknotes, this symbolised the introduction of the euro in Malta. Most of the ATMs started to dispense euro banknotes as of midnight and by late afternoon, all of the ATMs were dispensing euros.
We are a small brokerage that trades in collectable coins and currency. We are based in Valletta, at 215 Triq Santa Lucija. Please come in during normal office hours (Monday to Friday, except public holidays) and we will be pleased to assess and value your collection, or to help you find the items you desire for your own collection.