The Euro is the legal tender of the Eurozone member states in the European Union. In addition, the euro is a currency in 11 countries that are not members of the EU.
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The Euro, or EUR, is the legal tender in the territory of the Economic and Monetary Union, known under the symbol of €. It is currently considered a global currency, and in Europe it is slightly behind the U.S. dollar and before the Swiss franc. It has been an official currency since 1 January 2002 and its prominence is expanding in countries that have met the requirements for adopting the common currency (EU). Most EU Member States make it possible to pay in euros and the price conversion rate is provided in vendor price lists as standard practice.
One euro is subdivided to 100 euro cents. There are banknotes of 5 euro, 10 euro, 20 euro, 50 euro, 100 euro, 200 euro, and 500 euro in circulation. However, banknotes of 200 and 500 might be problematic at many points of sale. They occur rarely and can most often be found in the banking trade.
Euro coins include 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20, 50 eurocents, 1 and 2 euro. A characteristic feature of the coins is their varied reverse, depending on the country that issued them. In Euroland metropolises, given the high migration of EU citizens and the specific nature of the common currency, the coins are mixed so much that one can find coins with varying reverses that are a legacy after previous national currencies. The faces of the coins and all banknotes are identical throughout the euro region.
The euro is a result of a drive towards European integration and of numerous compromises of the member states that took up the euro as a legal tender. The common currency is used every day by 334 million people in 18 EU countries. The advantages of the single currency are numerous, starting from the absence of exchange rate fluctuations, through consistency of prices in the Euroland, to the comfort of travelling around Europe without having to exchange currencies. Apart from the Eurozone citizens and people visiting the zone, it is should be noted that more than 175 million people use currencies that are closely pegged to euro. The mechanism of fixed currency exchange rates is used by, among others, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as the Comoros and the Republic of Cape Verde. The euro is currently the currency with the highest cash value in the world, and if we take foreign currency reserves into account, the euro is responsible for 27%.
A predecessor of the euro was equ, which was gradually introduced to EU settlements until the Treaty of Maastricht brought the monetary union to reality. An attempt to introduce a single currency was the introduction of the virtual currency of euro in 1999 when euro was used for cashless payments and accounting settlements. On 1 January 2002, the euro became the legal tender in 12 EU Member States, which were joined in time by other states such as Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia following EU enlargement. There are currently 18 Eurozone Member States and the entire Eurozone is planned to include the entire EU. The euro gained its name in December 1995 when the TARGET system was established for automated conversion of national currencies to euro. At the adoption of the euro, 4.5 trillion euro in cash was converted and more than 10 trillion euro had to be converted to bank accounts all over the world.
The issue, control and security of the currency are managed in the European Union by the European Central Bank. Banknotes are printed in only 12 printing houses which are controlled by the ECB. Coins are minted by national mints.
The ECB sets the baseline volumes of interest rates throughout the Eurozone. In response to the economic crisis of 2008, Euroland governments and the European Commission, in cooperation with the ECB, undertook numerous measures to stimulate economic development and to protect the savings of its citizens in order to ensure the financial stability of the currency.
Euroland is made up of EU Member States, though not yet all of them. The euro is the legal tender in 18 EU Member States, which include: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Spain, the Netherlands, Ireland, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, Germany, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Italy. On the basis of a formal agreement, the euro has become the legal tender of Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican, and the countries that use the euro without a formal agreement are Andorra, Montenegro and Kosovo. The euro is also present in offshore departments and overseas territories of the Eurozone Member States. These include the French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Mayotte, Martinique, Miquelon, Reunion and Saint-Pierre and French Southern and Antarctic Lands.
A single currency provides both comfort of using the currency and economic stability. The euro has benefited many entrepreneurs who have taken advantage of their competitiveness across borders. Also outside the Eurozone, the currency has value and importance. It is the second most common international currency after the U.S. dollar that can be used for payments in many countries outside of Euroland.
The symbol of the euro is based on the Greek letter ε (epsilon), which was crossed with two lines taken after the U.S. dollar, however, contrary to the USD, the lines are horizontal. The graphic symbol of the Euro is to epitomise the Greek origin of the European civilisation. Every few years both the coins and the banknotes are slightly modified and improved in terms of security and adjusted to the new reality of the enlarged EU. In addition to the regular euro circulation, collectible 10 € coins made of silver are also minted.