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European currency (Euro, EUR) highlights

Note 1 - The third stage of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) was launched in 1998 with the establishment of a European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt, Germany which was a headquarters used to manage the introduction of a new single pan-European currency. The name chosen for the basic denomination of this european currency was The Euro.

The introduction of The Euro has surely been one of the major economic highlights of the decade. Having a common currency has contributed heavily to the further economic integration of all participating countries. The Euro has increased market transparency by making prices more easily comparable. Pan-European trade has become more attractive and lucrative as trade and investment is no longer be exposed to exchange-rate risks, and the costs associated with currency conversion have been eliminated. Eleven countries qualified for initial membership of the EMU: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, and The Netherlands.

On January 1, 1999, the conversion rate between the currencies of the eleven participating countries and the Euro became fixed permanently and the ECB established a single monetary policy. The Euro, as of this date, in non-cash form, became legal tender in all eleven aforementioned countries meaning that The Euro could be used for checks and credit transfers and other non-cash transactions.

On January 1, 2002, new Euro banknotes and coins were put into circulation. Over a certain period of time, which was determined by each participating country, notes and coins in the national currency were withdrawn from circulation. By July 1, 2002, Euro notes and coins became the only legal tender amongst the participating countries.

The European Commission introduced a new currency symbol to represent the new Euro and registered the currency code EUR with the ISO 4217 (Currency Codes) Maintenance Agency as representing this currency.

Note 2 - The Euro is divided into 100 Cents. In the language of each of the participating countries, "cent" is officially required to be used in legislation in both the singular and in the plural form of the word, despite the fact that in English and French the natural plural cents is recommended and used by the general public. (For more information on language and The Euro, see Linguistic issues concerning The Euro.)

All Euro coins have one side in common showing the denomination or value in addition to having a national side which shows an image chosen by the specific country that issued the coin ; Whereas the monarchies often have a picture of their reigning monarch, other countries may display their national symbols. Despite the differences between countries on one side of the coin, all coins can be used in any of the member states: For example, a Euro coin bearing the image of the Spanish King is legal tender not only in Spain, but also in Austria, Germany or any other member state where The Euro is in use. Currently there are ?2, ?1, 50c, 20c, 10c, 5c, 2c and 1c coins in circulation, though the latter two are not generally used in either Finland or the Netherlands thought they still retain their legal tender.

For each denomination there are common designs on both sides of the banknotes which are issued in values of : 5?, 10?, 20, ?50, ?100, ?200, ?500. Despite the fact that some of the higher denominations are not distributed in all countries, they are still legal tender.