April 30, 2018 0 By europanews

Since 1 January 1999, the euro, adopted by eleven EU Member States (twelve, with Greece since 2001), has been a reality for financial institutions. According to a timetable defined by the Maastricht Treaty, the transitional period during which the euro remained a non-cash currency ended at midnight on 31 December 2001.

From that date onwards, euro banknotes and coins gradually replaced the banknotes and coins of national currencies. This period of dual circulation of the euro and national currencies covered a period of one and a half months (1 January – 17 February).


There are 7 euro banknotes. In different colours and sizes, they are available in 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 euros. Their graphics symbolise the European architectural heritage, but they do not represent existing monuments. Windows and portals dominate the front of each banknote to evoke the spirit of openness and cooperation in the European Union. The reverse side represents a characteristic bridge of a given era, symbol of communication between the peoples of Europe and between Europe and the rest of the world. The final reasons were announced at the Dublin European Council in December 1996. All notes will be protected by advanced security features.


There are 8 euro coins, worth 1 and 2 euro, as well as 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cent. All euro coins will have a common European side. Each Member State may choose the decoration it wishes to affix to the other side. Whatever the design on the coins, they can be used in any of the 11 Member States. For example, a French national could buy a sandwich in Berlin using a euro coin representing the King of Spain. The common European side represents a map of the European Union against a background of transverse lines to which the stars of the European flag are connected. The 1, 2 and 5 cent coins focus on Europe’s place in the world, while the 10, 20 and 50 cent coins represent the Union as a group of nations. The 1 and 2 euro coins show Europe without borders. The final grounds were agreed at the Amsterdam European Council in June 1997.

The symbol

The graphic symbol of the euro resembles an E crossed by two clearly marked horizontal parallel lines. It is inspired by the Greek letter epsilon and recalls both the cradle of European civilisation and the first letter of the word’Europe’. The parallel lines symbolise the stability of the euro. The official abbreviation of the euro is’EUR’. It has been registered with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and will be used for all commercial or financial purposes, as will the abbreviations’FRF’ (French franc),’DEM’ (Deutschmark),’GBP’ (pound sterling) and’BEF’ (Belgian franc) today.

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