Czech view of the design of the Euro

You'd have to have been on Mars lately - or at least outside Europe - to not know that the long-planned switch-over to Euro coins and notes will takes place in four days time - on the first of January. The figures are awesome - some 50 billion Euro coins and 15 billion Euro notes are due to go into circulation in the 12 countries of the Eurozone.

For a Czech perspective Radio Prague spoke to Jan Vizek from Ceska Mincovna - the Czech Mint - about the aesthetics of the new currency. Mr. Vizek's organisation designs coins of course - what is his opinion of how the Euro coins look?

"I regard the design of the Euro as very successful from two different points of view. It's colourful and in terms of design they've chosen a really eternal theme. That's one thing. And the second thing is that the designer is a Czech who works in the Vienna mint. He works for the Viennese National Bank. That's wonderful because Czechs are good artists."

As far as Radio Prague can find out, the designer of the Euro coins is not actually Czech - he was born in Austria. But he does have a Czech-sounding name - Robert Kalina. Apparently Austrians already have a nickname for Euros - Kalinas.

Euro coins have national designs on one side. What was Mr. Vizek's opinion of those designs??

"Of course as a specialist or somebody working with coins I'm most interested in the design of coins. I'd say that the national side - which is different for every country - is very beautiful. I expect that the Czech Euro coins will be as be as elegant as the Czech coins and banknotes which currently exist."

Mr. Vizek told Radio Prague that the Czech Mint was making concrete plans for the day the Czech Republic joins the Eurozone, which will of course be several years after the country joins the European Union. The Czech Mint, which is located in Jablonec, north Bohemia, is planning to invest some 50 to 70 million crowns in minting Czech Euro coins over the next five years.