Abolish 1c and 2c coins, majority of Maltese say

3% mentally convert to old currency for everyday shopping

The Maltese would like the 1c and 2c coins abolished and replaced by a mandatory rounding of prices to 0 or 5 cents, a Eurobarometer survey shows.

The survey found that 62% of the Maltese would like the lowest euro denominations rounded up or down depending on which sum is closer.

Nonetheless, this represents a 3-point decrease in support for removing the two coins since 2021 and a 1-point increase since last year.

Only 37% of Maltese respondents want to retain the two lowest denomination coins.

Support for the abolition of the two coins in Malta is four points lower than that in the entire Eurozone. Support for the abolition of these two coins is highest in Slovakia (86%) and Italy (80%) and lowest in Spain (55%) and Greece (57%).

In the Eurozone as a whole the proportion of respondents in favour of abolishing the 1c and 2c coins gradually increased from 60% in 2011 to 67% in March 2021; decreased to 64% in October 2022 and is back at 66% in 2023.

In September 2020 the European Commission launched a public consultation on the use of the 1c and 2c coins.

European citizens were invited to express their views for four weeks on whether or not to abolish them through an open consultation on a dedicated website.

The aim was to decide, at the end of 2021, whether a legislative proposal for uniform rounding rules for cash payments and possibly the abandonment of the 1c and 2c coins, was justified. But no decision was ever taken.

A report published by the European Commission in 2018 revealed that almost half of all euro coins issued are one- and two-cent coins. The return rate of one- and two-cent coins to national central banks was the lowest for all denominations.

“One-way use, a low return rate to national central banks and a steady increase in the issuance of the one- and two-cent coins all support the hypothesis that these denominations are not circulating efficiently among economic operators, but are mostly hoarded or lost,” the report concluded.

In addition to the environmental cost of lost coins, the European Commission also concluded that “the acquisition costs alone already exceed the face value of the coin. From a budgetary point of view, issuing this denomination is a loss-making activity for member states.

Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Slovakia already round prices to the nearest five cents, while producing only a handful of those coins for collectors, rather than general circulation.

The survey also shows that the percentage of Maltese who, when buying things, still convert the price to the previous national currency is declining.

Only 3% do so for day-to-day shopping down from 6% in 2022, 8% in 2021 and 14% in 2019. 11% still do so for exceptional purposes like buying a car or a house, down from 13% in 2022 and 14% in 2019.

Moreover, 9% replied that they don’t even remember the value of the lira.