Own Basque social currency to be launched before the end of January

Euskos meant to promote "greener and more human economy" linked to Basque language and culture · Promoters argue businesses will benefit from the system · Banknotes show Basque life pictures and five different security features

Citizens of Iparralde (Northern Basque Country, French side of the border) will be able to get their first euskos on Saturday. The Association pour la création d'une monnaie locale, basque, écologique et solidaire is expected to launch this new social currency (an alternative to the euro) throughout Iparralde on January 31st, but there will be a première in Ainhize-Monjolose on January 19th.

The design of the eusko banknotes (left picture; click to enlarge) was presented for the first time the day before yesterday in Bayonne. Denominations of the notes range from 1 to 20 euskos. They show pictures that are representative of the Basque life, and have been released with five different security features: watermark, hot stamping, hallmark, anti-copy fluorescent ink and a fifth one that has not been disclosed.

"Basque, greener and more human economy" envisaged

The eusko project was introduced in early 2012. Promoters then explained that they intended to help in "the emergence of a greener and more human economy". Another goal was to "reinforce the use of Basque in public life" through linking the new currency to the commitment by shops and businesses to use the language.

The new currency will be in circulation in Iparralde, but promoters want the idea to be expanded to the whole Basque Country, that is to the territories of Euskadi and Navarre on the Spanish side of the border.

126,000 euskos put into circulation

According to Le Journal du Pays Basque, 126,000 euskos will be put into circulation before the end of January. There will also be a system allowing to pay in euskos through internet, starting from June. Euskos can be purchased at a fixed rate of 1 eusko-1 euro. From the very beginning, they will be accepted in 73 businesses in Iparralde.

Eusko promoters argue that the system will allow shops to gain new costumers, will act as a seal of quality (only eco-friendly, locally based and socially responsible businesses are welcome) and will boost local economy, because recirculation of the Basque currency is encouraged (when exchanging euskos back into euros, 2% of the value is lost).

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