The initial series of Vatican euro coins featured an effigy of Pope John Paul II. They were issued only in collector sets and bore an extreme markup with the 2002 collector set costing well over a thousand euro.
Depiction of Vatican euro coinage (2002–2005) | Obverse side
The Commission of the European Communities issued a recommendation on 19 December 2008, a common guideline for the national sides and the issuance of euro coins intended for circulation. One section of this recommendation stipulates that:
Article 5. Changes to the national sides of regular euro coins intended for circulation:
"... the designs used for the national sides of the euro coins intended for circulation denominated in euro or in cent should not be modified, except in cases where the Head of State referred to on a coin changes ... A temporary vacancy or the provisional occupation of the function of Head of State should not give the right to change the national sides of the regular euro coins intended for circulation."
This change means that there will be no more "Sede Vacante" series of the regular Vatican euro coins, although the issue of commemorative "Sede Vacante" series (usually gold and silver coins), having legal tender in Vatican City only, remains possible. Circulating €2 commemorative Sede Vacante coins would also be possible, if the Sede Vacante period occurs in a year in which the Vatican has not already released a €2 commemorative of another subject. It is expected that the design of the coins will be changed for Pope Francis, who was elected on 13 March 2013.