The Euro is the single currency for Member States of the European Union, nowadays used by some 334 million people. The euro entered into circulation on 1st January 2002, in order to replace the existing currencies such as the peseta, the franc, the drachma or the escudo.
Countries using the euro
Ever since its birth and until now, a total of eighteen countries out of the twenty-eight forming the European Union have gradually adopted the euro, thus forming the so-called Eurozone. These countries are: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. Latvia was the last country to enter the Eurozone on January 1st 2014.
However, other 10 countries in the European Union have not adopted the euro, such as Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, Romania and Sweden.
Current euro Coins and Banknotes
There are a total of seven denominations of legal tender euro banknotes: €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500. These notes are all identical for all the countries that use this currency, and their designs reflect the most representative architectural styles of seven ages of the cultural history of Europe. Discover all these notes at the website of the European Central Bank.
On 2nd May 2013 the new €5 note of the Europa series entered into circulation, incorporating a new design and improved security measures.
As for the coins there are eight different denominations: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent and 1 and 2 euro coins. One common side and one national which identifies the issuing country.
The Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) decides the amount of euro notes issued each year and the total value of the coins issued by each country.
Advantages of a single euro currency
As the Bank of Spain indicates, the euro cash currency, as payment instrument, boasts some unique characteristics:
- It is the most used in business transactions
- Its cost is lower than that of electronic payment instruments for small amount transactions.
- It is readily available to all, and eases payment for people who do not have bank accounts or have restricted access to them or cannot use means of electronic payment.
- It helps people control their expenses better.
- It is a safe instrument against fraud and counterfeiting.
- It is a store of value.
For these reasons, the amount of euro banknotes in circulation has increased continually since it was first issued and this currency has become a reference for the whole Eurozone.
Did you know?
- The author of the design of euro banknotes is Robert Kalian, from the Austrian National Bank.
- The seven bridges that appear on euro banknotes actually do not exist.
- Robin Stam built these imaginary bridges depicted in euro banknotes in a town in the south of the Netherlands.
- In Spain there are some 84 million €500 banknotes in circulation, one quarter of all such banknotes exiting in the European Union.