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C 137 E/92 Official Journal of the European Union EN 12.6.

2003

(2003/C 137 E/104) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2573/02


by Kathleen Van Brempt (PSE) to the Commission

(16 September 2002)

Subject: Nickel allergy

Nickel allergy is the most common form of contact allergy in industrialised countries, occurring in 10 to
15 percent of women and a small proportion of men. Coins of 1 and 2 euros contain nickel in quantities
that can cause people with a nickel allergy to suffer eczema on their hands. Brief contact with the coins
can produce itching or irritation, according to dermatologists. Reports of allergy to euro coins began to
surface in the media following the introduction of the coins.

Is the Commission aware of cases of allergy to nickel in euro coins?

If so, does it have any statistics?

Are there alternatives to the use of nickel in coins?

If so, what are the alternatives and does the Commission intend to make use of them?

Answer given by Mr Solbes Mira on behalf of the Commission

(16 October 2002)

The Commission is not aware of any particular cases of patients suffering from nickel allergy, which can
be traced back to the handling or use of 1- and 2- euro coins.

Before the decision on the technical specifications of the euro coins was taken in 1997, the Commission
consulted its ‘Scientific Committee on Toxicity, Ecotoxicity and the Environment’ (SCTEE), which based its
conclusions on all evidence available. The SCTEE had concluded at the time that there was no evidence,
which suggested that the old national coins (whose nickel content was much higher than for the euro
coins) have caused any form of sensitisation to nickel of either workers handling coins or the normal
consumer.

Nickel has been a very popular material for the minting of coins due to its technical properties since the
19th century. The copper-nickel and nickel-brass alloys used for the 1- and 2- euro coins do not oxidise.
Due to its conductivity it allows for the reliable identification of euro coins in coin-operated machines and
its three-layer structure assures the detection of counterfeit coins. Nickel greatly contributes to the higher
security standard of coins and its use was therefore decided for the higher-value euro coins.

The technical specifications of the euro coins have been laid down in Council Regulation (EC) No 975/98
of 3 May 1998 on denominations and technical specifications of euro coins intended for circulation (1).
Currently and in the foreseeable future the Commission does not have any plans to propose a change of
the technical specifications of the euro coins.

(1) OJ L 139, 11.5.1998.

(2003/C 137 E/105) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2579/02


by Joaquim Miranda (GUE/NGL) to the Council

(16 September 2002)

Subject: Attestation of professional competence for cabin crews in civil aviation

In 1997 the Commission submitted a proposal for a Directive (1) on safety requirements and attestation of
professional competence for cabin crews in civil aviation, on which the European Parliament delivered its
opinion at first reading on 19 February 1998.