As of January 1, 2002, the European Central Bank and the National Central banks of the countries that have joined the Monetary Union have put into circulation Euro-denominated banknotes and coins: as a result, in order to combine the common aims of the First and Second Pillars of the post Maastricht monetary building, Community institutions have arranged appropriate legal tools dealing both with the administrative aspects, i.e. activities aimed at the detection, monitoring, analysis and exchange of information on counterfeits, as well as aspects having criminal and prosecutorial importance.
In particular, the European Union Council adopted Regulation No. 1338/2001 by which certain necessary measures have been defined for the circulation of Euro banknotes and coins in order to ensure their protection against counterfeiting activity; and obligations also have been established for Member States that have adopted the new European currency and for the credit institutions thereof. A second regulation (no. 1339/2001) has extended the effects of the first regulation also to the Member Countries (Denmark, United Kingdom and Sweden) that are not part of the Monetary Union.
The structure of the whole device (which has been completed with special conventions between the European Central Bank and the Commission, the Commission and Europol, and Europol and Interpol) is aimed at creating an integrated information system on forgeries of banknotes and coins, between the various national and international competent authorities, such as Central Banks, Mints, National Police Forces, European Central Bank, European Commission, Europol and Interpol.
The efficiency of the Community devise therefore depends on the establishment, in each Member State, of a central coordinating unit which should able to collect and send to the European Central Bank all information on Euro forgeries in order to assess the impact of this phenomenon on the economic and financial system through the strategic analysis of useful information. In particular, the aim is to ensure the exchange of updated, complete and homogeneous data in order to give this Euro protection mechanism a strategic capacity which is able to optimize, on a Community scale, all actions aimed at guaranteeing the single currency´s credibility.
The system of legal protection of the new European currency was conceived with a view to adequately combat the counterfeiting problem through the development of actions whose ultimate goal is to reach an optimal level of prevention and an effective countering and enforcement action. In the new system, prevention is linked to the functioning of a system which is clearly of an administrative nature, whilst the countering and enforcement action is still the responsibility of Police Force cooperation in coordinated investigations
Italy, in perfect alignment with this strategy, has given a more extensive application of EC Regulation No. 1338/2001 concerning a system for the gathering and circulation of data on Euro forgeries. Indeed, by special Ministerial Decree dated May 15, 2001, the Central Means of PaymentsForgery Office ( UCAMP ) was established, whose task was to gather and monitor all data of technical and statistical nature and other additional information in order to outline the typologies of the Euro-denominated banknotes and coins. Following the entering into force of Decree Law 173/2003, that has assigned to the Economy and Finance Ministry all Government responsibilities in the prevention of fraud involving non-cash means of payment, the Office changed its name and became Central Means of Payment Fraud Office.
This new "Task Force", headed by an executive of the Economy and Finance Ministry, operates within the framework of the 3rd Directorate (International Financial Relations) under the Department of the Treasury. It is comprised of:
The Office employs a flexible and modular software application which, when required, can be used with newer and more advanced functions, enabling to:
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