BRUSSELS—Belgium announced this week it would issue a special €2.50 coin to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, circumventing French objections that had blocked issuance of a €2 coin.
The French government had complained that the earlier proposal would send a negative signal at a time when European unity was important. The French forces under Napoleon Bonaparte were badly defeated on June 18, 1815, at the site outside Brussels, by British and Prussian troops.
The loss marked the end of the Napoleonic era, and it remains a sensitive subject among certain quarters in France.
Under eurozone rules, a special design on a standard €2 coin (worth about $2.25), required the approval of all 19 eurozone countries through which it would circulate.
When France blocked it earlier this year, Belgian Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt issued a dismissive statement saying Europe had more important things to worry about. But he gave no indication at the time that Belgium would issue a different Waterloo coin.
Belgium has the authority to strike the new coin on its own because of the irregular €2.50 value. It will be legal tender only within Belgium, the finance ministry says, and is the first time Belgium has issued a coin of that value.
Belgium will issue the coin only as part of larger Waterloo commemorative items or sets.
The coin will show the current Waterloo monument, featuring a steep butte with a lion on top. It will also include a diagram of the position of the troops during the battle itself.
The coming bicentennial is a major event in Belgium, with thousands expected to attend a re-enactment and a series of other events. But while Belgium and Britain are organizing large-scale Waterloo commemorations, the French government has made few preparations to mark the occasion, although French spokesmen say officials will attend events organized by others.