€2 commemorative coins are special euro coins minted and issued by member states of the eurozone since 2004 as legal tender in all eurozone member states. Only the national obverse sides of the coins differ; the common reverse sides do not. The coins typically commemorate the anniversaries of historical events or draw attention to current events of special importance. In 2007, 2009, 2012 and 2015, there were common commemorative coins with only different national inscriptions. Up to 2015, two hundred and thirty variations of €2 commemorative coins have been minted – six in 2004, eight in 2005, seven in 2006, twenty in 2007 (including thirteen versions of the common issue), ten in 2008, twenty-five in 2009 (including sixteen versions of the common issue), twelve in 2010, sixteen in 2011, thirty in 2012 (including seventeen versions of the common issue), twenty-three in 2013, twenty-six in 2014 and forty-seven in 2015 (including nineteen versions of the common issue). Finland, Luxembourg, San Marino and the Vatican City are the only countries to have released at least one national commemorative coin every year. Cyprus has not minted any national commemorative coin yet.
The number of commemorative coins is limited to two (before 2012 to one) per country per year (in addition to any common issue) and to 5 percent of the total mintage output. Limits on the designs are also in place to ensure uniformity.
The €2 commemorative coins have become collectibles, but are different from commemorative coins with a face value different from €2, which are officially designated as "collector coins" and usually made of precious metals.
The basis for the commemorative coins is derived from a decision of the European Council, which allowed changing the national obverse sides of euro coins from 1 January 2004 onwards. However, a number of recommendations and restrictions still apply.
Two restrictions concern the design. Euro coins must still have a common reverse side, so only the national obverse sides may be varied. Also, the standard national obverse sides per se should not be changed before 2008 at the earliest, unless the head of state depicted on some coins changes before then. (This clause already came into effect for Monaco and the Vatican City, whose heads of state—Rainier III and Pope John Paul II respectively—died in 2005 and whose national obverse sides were changed for 2006.)
Further regulations restrict the frequency and number of commemorative coin issues. Until 2012, each member state could only issue one commemorative coin per year, and since that year two coins per year, and they shall only be denominated as €2 coins. The total number of such coins put into circulation per year should not surpass the higher of the following two numbers:0.1% of the total number of €2 coins put into circulation by all members of the eurozone. This limit can exceptionally be increased to up to 2.0 per cent if the coin commemorates a very important and noteworthy event; in this case, the member state issuing this higher number of coins should refrain from putting any commemorative coins into circulation for the following four years.
5.0% of the total number of €2 coins put into circulation by the member state issuing the €2 commemorative coin.
Another decision added two more guidelines regarding the design of the coins. The state issuing a coin should in some way clearly be identified on the obverse side, either by stating the full name or a clearly identifiable abbreviation of it; and neither name nor the denomination of the coin should be repeated on the obverse, as it is already featured on the common reverse side.
These restrictions do not apply retroactively; only new designs—the national obverse sides for regular issues of states newly joining the euro or of eurozone states which change their design, and €2 commemorative coins issued from 2006 onwards—are subject to them. However, the five countries whose designs violated the first update to the rules (Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany and Greece) initially were assumed to have to change their design in the future, which Finland did for 2007 and Belgium for 2008.
Another decision changed the rules again:The twelve stars of the European Union surrounding the coin designs need to surround the national design, including year marks and the name of the country. The stars have to appear in the same way as they are aligned on the flag of the European Union. (These recommendations are not currently fulfilled by the Luxembourgish and Slovenian coins.)
The design of euro coins may not be changed except for two specific circumstances:
If a coin design is in violation of the recommendations, it may be updated to bring it into line with them. (This applies to Austria, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg and Slovenia.)
If a coin design depicts a head of state, it may be updated:
The edge lettering of commemorative coins has to be the same as the one on the regular coins.
Belgium was forced to change its design back to show the original portrait of its monarch, because the 2008 update to follow the recommendations also updated the portrait, which was against the rules. The Belgian coins from 2009 onwards show the original royal portrait of 1999, but otherwise keep the new 2008 coin design as far as the country identification and year mark are concerned. These provisions additionally prohibit further sede vacante sets of coins by the Vatican City, allowing only commemorative coins for such occasions. Spain updated their design from 2010 onwards to meet the new rules, leaving Austria, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg and Slovenia in breach of them still.
In 2012, the European Council set up new specifications of euro coins and named (in article 1g) a deadline for national sides of regular coins to be updated to fully comply with the current regulation: 20 June 2012. Also in 2012, a new EU regulation on the issuance of euro coins was concluded, increasing the allowed number of national €2 commemorative coins per year to two.
Twenty one countries have independently issued €2 commemorative coins (Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and the Vatican City), with Greece being the first country to issue this type of coin. Cyprus is the only Eurozone state which has not independently issued a commemorative €2 coin. There have also been four common €2 commemorative coins issued by all eurozone member states:50 years Treaty of Rome in 2007.
10 years Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union (EMU) in 2009.
10 years Euro Coins and Banknotes in 2012.
30 years of the Flag of Europe in 2015.
Issued designs are made public in the Official Journal of the European Union.
Germany started the commemorative coin series Die 16 Bundesländer der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (The 16 States of the Federal Republic of Germany) in 2006, which will continue until 2021. The year in which the coin for a specific state is issued coincides with that state's Presidency of the Bundesrat. The coins issued are:
Originally, the designs for the following states were different:Hamburg: Landungsbrücken
Bremen: Bremen City Hall only (without the Bremen Roland)
Bavaria: Munich Frauenkirche
Baden-Württemberg: Heidelberg Castle
Lower Saxony: Hanover New City Hall
Hesse: Römer in Frankfurt am Main
The series is similar to the United States' 50 State Quarters series, which saw fifty coins issued for its fifty constituent states, five per year between 1999 and 2008. A separate program saw six coins issued in 2009 for the District of Columbia and five territories of the United States.
(featuring the Role of the Malta Community Chest Fund in Society)
Spain started the commemorative coin series Patrimonio de la Humanidad de la UNESCO (UNESCO World Heritage) in 2010, commemorating all of Spain's UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which could continue until 2050. The order in which the coin for a specific site is issued coincides with the order in which they were declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. The coins issued are: