Twenty years of the euro: three in four Europeans are in favour of the single currency

The launch of the euro two decades ago brought tangible benefits to people and companies across the EU. A ceremony in Parliament on 15 January will mark the event.

Launched on world financial markets on 1 January 1999, the euro was used initially in electronic format in banking and payments. Three years later, euro notes and coins entered into circulation.

The single currency has made it easier for people to compare prices across borders, to shop and travel and to make savings in a stable currency. It also opened up more opportunities for businesses, as the costs and uncertainty of dealing with fluctuating exchange rates disappeared.

Currently, the euro is the official currency of 19 EU countries. It also plays an important international role, used for almost 40% of global cross-border payments, second only to the US dollar.

A Eurobarometer survey from November 2018 showed a record level of support for the euro in the euro area. Three in four respondents said that they viewed the euro as a good thing for the EU.

The single currency is central to the EU’s economic and monetary union and the European institutions have been working to reinforce coordination in this area in the wake of the financial crisis a decade ago. Measures taken include the introduction of the European semester, an annual cycle of reviewing EU countries’ economic and budgetary plans, the launch of single supervision of the euro area’s largest banks and a common approach for winding up failing banks.

Parliament marks euro anniversary

Marking 20 years of the euro, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani noted that the currency is more popular than ever: “Three out of four citizens believe it is good for our economy. In order for Europeans to benefit fully from the jobs, growth and solidarity that the single currency should bring, we must complete our economic and monetary union through genuine financial, fiscal and political Union. This will also allow Europe to better shield its citizens from potential future crises.”

The European Parliament will celebrate the 20-year anniversary with a ceremony in Strasbourg on 15 January at 11.30 CET. President Antonio Tajani and economic and monetary affairs committee chair Roberto Gualtieri will be in attendance. Also present for the discussion on the importance of the euro and its future will be Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, ECB president Mario Draghi, Eurogroup president Mário Centeno and former ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet.

The Parliament will also hold an exhibition on the euro throughout the Strasbourg plenary session.