Awkward divisions between European countries are not uncommon. In 2010, for example, German newspapers suggested Greece sell some of its islands to avoid bankruptcy.
Now there’s a growing rift between two euro countries that you might not expect — France and Belgium — which are arguing about something that happened 200 years ago.
Earlier this year, Belgium minted 175,000 €2 coins “decorated with images of the battle that ended Napoleon Bonaparte’s hopes of supremacy in Europe,” according to the Financial Times. The coins commemorated the 1815 Battle of Waterloo, when Napoleon was defeated by a military coalition that included British, Prussian, and Dutch forces.
France still has some sentimental attachment to the Napoleonic era: In a 2005 show called “The Greatest Frenchman of all Time,” Napoleon was ranked 16th.
France objected to the designs and the coins were melted back down again, since all the countries that use the euro have to approve what goes on them. But Belgium is nothing if not a plucky and resilient nation, so it didn’t admit defeat.
Here’s the FT:
Brussels this week resorted to a cunning ruse de guerre: minting €2.50 and €10 coins. The peculiar denominations mean the coins will be legal tender only in Belgium, although the issue is largely theoretical as they are essentially collectors’ items.
So Belgium will get its Waterloo euro coins after all, just don’t expect them to crop up in French cafes any time soon.
Here’s what the newly minted coin looks like: