The EURO

Euro ZoneThe euro (symbol: €; code: EUR) is the official currency of 19 of the 27 member states of the European Union. This group of states is known as the eurozone or euro area and includes about 343 million citizens as of 2019. The euro, which is divided into 100 cents, is the second-largest and second-most traded currency in the foreign exchange market after the United States dollar.

The currency is also used officially by the institutions of the European Union, by four European microstates that are not EU members, the British Overseas Territory of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, as well as unilaterally by Montenegro and Kosovo. Outside Europe, a number of special territories of EU members also use the euro as their currency. Additionally, over 200 million people worldwide use currencies pegged to the euro.

The euro is the second-largest reserve currency as well as the second-most traded currency in the world after the United States dollar. As of December 2019, with more than €1.3 trillion in circulation, the euro has one of the highest combined values of banknotes and coins in circulation in the world.

The name euro was officially adopted on 16 December 1995 in Madrid. The euro was introduced to world financial markets as an accounting currency on 1 January 1999, replacing the former European Currency Unit (ECU) at a ratio of 1:1 (US$1.1743). Physical euro coins and banknotes entered into circulation on 1 January 2002, making it the day-to-day operating currency of its original members, and by March 2002 it had completely replaced the former currencies.

Eurozone members

 

Monetary agreement

 

Unilaterally adopted

 

Common Side

The common sides of the eight euro coins have different designs:

  • €2 and €1, 50, 20 and 10 cent show either the European Union before its enlargement on 1 May 2004 or, as of 1 January 2007, a geographical image of Europe. Coins from Italy (including San Marino and the Vatican City), Austria and Portugal show the more recent design only if they are dated “2008” or later.
  • 5, 2 and 1 cent show Europe in relation to Africa and Asia on a globe.
  • Luc Luycx of the Royal Belgian mint won the Euro design competition and on all Euro coins there are the initials of 'LL'.
  • Each denomination has different edge so it is easy to recognize them.
  • Malta and Cyprus and all the new members of the Eurozone has the new design. 

Read more: Common Side

National Sides

There are eight euro coin denominations, ranging from one cent to two euros (the euro is divided into a hundred cents). The coins first came into use in 1999. They have a common reverse, portraying a map of Europe, but each country in the eurozone has its own design on the obverse, which means that each coin has a variety of different designs in circulation at once. Four European micro states that are not members of the European Union (Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican City) use the euro as their currency and also have the right to mint coins with their own designs on the obverse side.

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€2 Commermoratives

Each state may also mint two commemorative coins each year from June 2012. From 2004 to May 2012, countries were only allowed to mint one coin per year. Only €2 coins may be used in this way (for them to be legal tender) and there is a limit on the number that can be issued. The coin must show the normal design criteria, such as the twelve stars, the year and the issuing country.

Read more: €2 Commermoratives

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