The unit of money in the eurozone
The Euro is the currency of 19 European Union countries (since 1 January 2014):
- Cyprus (since 1 January 2008)
- Estonia (since 1 January 2011)
- Latvia (since 1 January 2014)
- Malta (since 1 January 2008)
- The Netherlands
- Slovakia (since 1 January 2009)
- Slovenia (since 1 January 2007)
Special monetary agreements have been concluded with Monaco, the Vatican City and San Marino. These agreements enable each of these countries to issue Euro coins with their own national sides. This follows the tradition of earlier agreements between France and Monaco, and between Italy and San Marino and Italy and the Vatican, which had previously allowed these countries to issue their own coins in French francs and Italian lira respectively.
In Andorra the Euro has replaced the Spanish peseta and French franc, both of which previously circulated in the Principality.
Certain parts of the Euro area are located outside the European continent, such as the four French overseas departments (Guadeloupe, French Guyana, Martinique and Reunion), as well as Madeira, the Canary Islands. Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon and Mayotte are French overseas territorial communities not forming part of the EU which previously used the French franc and now use the Euro by virtue of an agreement with the Union.
The Euro is furthermore used as means of payment in Kosovo and Montenegro, replacing the German mark which was formerly used as the de facto currency.
The Euro - banknotes
The first Euro banknotes were introduced on 1st January 2002 and replaced twelve different sets of banknotes in the previous national currencies.
The European Central Bank is responsible for the overall authorisation of Euro banknote issues but the practical aspects of putting these notes into circulation is carried out by the twelve national central banks of the Euro area.
There are seven different denominations in the current Euro banknote series, ranging from the €5 to the €500 note.
The designs of the notes are the same throughout the Euro area and feature windows and gateways (on the front) and bridges (on the reverse) from different periods in Europe's architectural history.
The Euro - coins
The first Euro coins were introduced on 1st January 2002 and replaced twelve different sets of coins in the previous national currencies.
The Member States of the Euro area issue their own Euro coins, although the volumes issued are subject to approval by the European Central Bank.
Each Euro coin has a common European design on one side and an individual national design on the other. However, the technical features of the coins (size, weight, metals used) are identical across all Euro countries.
There are eight different denominations in the current Euro coin series, ranging from the 1 cent to the €2 coin