Fake Catalan euros stir up independence bid

One man's dream of seeing an independent Catalonia in the EU has led him to create the first unofficial euro coins representing the possible future country-to-be.

Fake Catalan euros stir up independence bid
The first batch of coin cases has proven to be such a success that the only ones now available are on eBay for three times the original price of €10. Photo: monedesrepublica

The 'limited edition' coins, which number 8,000 so far, have been minted in China and are being sold through an anonymous Facebook page.

Although the 'Catalan' two and one euro coins have the same dimensions and metallic composition as any of those used across Europe, they differ from the Spanish version in that King Juan Carlos’ image has been replaced by two castellers at the top of the traditional human tower seen at Catalan festivals.

The smaller pieces – 50,20,10,5,2 and 1 cent ones – feature an image of Catalonia’s patron saint George fighting the dragon.

SEE ALSO: Ten Catalan expressions every expat needs to know

The first batch of coin cases has proven to be such a success that the only ones now available are on eBay for three times the original price of €10 ($13.70).

Decorated with the red and yellow of the Catalan Senyera flag,  two written messages stand out on the collector’s box: "First attempt at minting the euro coin of the Catalan Republic" and "Ours are not legal tender".

Spain's El Mundo newspaper managed to contact the tight-lipped person behind the scheme, a man who goes by the name of Miquel but who gave nothing else away.

"Obviously we've taken advantage of the favourable situation to promote and sell the coins," he told the Spanish daily in reference to the recent call by Catalan president Arthur Mas for a referendum on the issue of independence to be held.

Miquel claims 20 percent of his coin earnings have been donated to "an entity that works towards the freedom of his country".

When asked if he thought he was breaking EU laws by minting fake currency, Miquel defended himself by saying the coins are slightly smaller and the word ‘euro’ is nowhere to be seen on the pieces. 

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How to get up to €12,000 more a year by delaying your retirement in Spain

The Spanish Social Security system offers a couple of ways to boost your pension, whether it be by increasing the payment base or receiving a one off lump sum, appealing options for those who aren't ready to retire yet.

How to get up to €12,000 more a year by delaying your retirement in Spain

Spain’s Social Security system allows you to boost your pension by between €5,000 and €12,000 if you delay your retirement.

Bolstering your Spanish pension pot can be done in a couple of ways, namely increasing the annual amount by a certain percentage or opting for a lump sum payment.

In March 2023 the Spanish government made a series of reforms to the pensions system, the underlying thrust of which was to prepare the system for the impending retirement of the baby boomer generation throughout the 2030s and 2040s.


Pension reforms

Agreed with major trade unions and business leaders, the wide-ranging changes increased minimum pension rates, increased maximum employer contributions, as well as implementing a ‘dual system’ to calculate the pensions of non-conventional careers and make sure people, the self-employed for example, do not lose out.

The reforms did not change the legal retirement age in Spain, however, which stayed at 65.

To claim a pension in Spain a minimum of 37 years and 9 months of contributions must have been paid. If this requirement is not met, the retirement age is set at 66 years and 4 months.

However, just because someone in Spain reaches the official retirement age does not mean they have to retire, and there are now a number of benefits available to all contributors if they decide to delay the retirement age whilst also bolstering their pension.

This is a scheme run by the Spanish Social Security department that seeks to incentivise those who voluntarily delay or postpone their retirement.

So, what are the incentives, how can you boost your pension and how much extra can you earn?

How to boost your pension pot in Spain

According to the Social Security website, voluntary delayed retirement “is the possibility for workers (self-employed or employed) to extend their working life once they have reached the ordinary retirement age.”

There are two options:

An additional 4 percent of your base for each full year contributed after reaching retirement age, added to the total pension amount.

A lump sum per year of contribution, depending on the number of years of contribution at retirement age, ranging from approximately €5,000 to €12,000, depending on how you do it, which is then paid out upon retirement.

READ ALSO: Spain’s over 65s exceed 20 percent of the population for the first time

The additional 4 percent will be received with the arrival of the delayed retirement, “applying the percentage increase corresponding to the pension received each month”.

In the case of the lump sum, “you can choose to receive a single payment at the time of retirement, with the amount varying according to the number of years of contributions at the date of retirement”.

Technically speaking, you can combine the two options and receive a smaller lump sum payment whilst also boosting your monthly payment.

A handy tweet from the Social Security ministry outlines the options below:

What does that mean in terms of pension payouts?

Let’s look at an example.

Say you’ve worked in 35 years and made 35 years of contributions to the Spanish social security system. Your initial pension pot works at to €1,500 per month, but you decide you want to postpone your retirement by two years to boost your pension.

What would you be entitled to?

Option 1: €120 per month more (4 percent more of the regulatory base)

Option 2: a lump sum payment of €15,414 (€7,707 per year of delayed retirement)

Option 3: a combination of the two options, meaning lump sum payment of €7,707 and an increased pension rate by €60 per month.