The Euro


The euro (€, EUR) is the second-largest reserve currency after the US dollar. This youngest currency in the world began to be used in cashless financial transactions in 1999, and cash money became available three years later. 

Nineteen European Union states and ten other countries in the world use the euro as an official means of payment. Several other EU member states like Bulgaria, Croatia, and Romania are going to switch to this currency on the official level soon. 


The introduction of the euro was preceded by the European Union establishment when the Maastricht Treaty entered into effect after being signed in 1992. The document enshrined the necessity to create the uniform currency within the territory of the newly-formed union of European countries. The euro obtained its current name in 1995 after the official approval of the European Commission. The Maastricht Treaty determined the criteria to be met by the potential EU members to enter the Union and adopt the euro as the single currency. 

The terms and fact of adoption of the euro were not fine with all stakeholders. The United Kingdom and Denmark became the EU members, but requested exemptions for adopting a new currency. Sweden was the next one and held the non-binding referendum that enabled the Swedish citizens to opt for using the krona. 

The euro adoption in the Baltic states was temporarily sustained because the countries did not comply with the Maastricht Treaty criteria completely. Estonia was the first one to bring its economic performance to that compliance. The single European currency was adopted there at the beginning of 2011. Latvia joined the Eurozone in 2015. 

A range of other EU member states (Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary) continue using their own currencies and are not going to switch to the euro. 

The single European currency attracts the interest of five non-EU countries that have chosen the euro for payments: the Vatican City State, Andorra, the Principality of Monaco, the Republic of San Marino, and the Territorial Collectivity of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon. 

There are five more countries where the euro is used for various financial transactions though it has not been adopted officially: the overseas collectivities of France - Saint Barthélemy and Saint Martin, the British overseas military base areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, and two Balkan states - Montenegro and Kosovo.


The issuance of euro banknotes is made by the European Central Bank. In cooperation with all central banks of EU member states, it has formed an entire bank system that deals with all matters connected to issuing and circulating of the single European currency.


At present, there are the two-series banknotes in denominations of €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, €500 in circulation. The first series was issued in 2002 and designed by Robert Kalina. The issuance of the second, re-designed by Reinhold Gerstetter, took several years - from 2013 to 2019.

EUR banknotes

EUR banknotes

Stock photo

The banknotes of both series share a common design: there are the windows on the obverse and bridges on the reverse. Windows were сhosen to symbolise the openness of Europeans to the world, and bridges meant communication and cooperation. There is a blue EU flag in the left corner of the banknote with 12 stars in the centre that symbolise the EU countries. The currency name is provided in Latin and Greek alphabets - EURO and ΕΥΡΩ.

Security threads with repeated numbers denoting denominations are to the left on the banknote obverse. Holographic bands are to the right.

  • €5 (first series) is a grey-coloured banknote that features the Arc de Triomphe on the obverse, and the map of the European Union, and an ancient aqueduct on the reverse. The note measures 62 mm by 120 mm and depicts the style of Classical era architecture. 
  • €10 is a red banknote featuring the style of Romanesque architecture with an arch on the obverse and a bridge and a map on the reverse. The note measures 67 mm by 127 mm. 
  • €20 is a blue banknote designed in a style of Gothic architecture that measures 72 mm by 133 mm. There is a window on the obverse and a bridge on the reverse. 
  •  €50 is an orange banknote designed in the style of Renaissance. It features a window on the obverse and a bridge and map of Europe on the reverse. The size is 77 mm by 140 mm. 
  • €100 is a green Baroque-style banknote that measures 82 mm by 153 mm. There is an arch window on the obverse, and a bridge, and a map on the reverse. 
  •  €200 is a yellow-brown banknote designed in an Art Nouveau steel-and-glass style that features a gateway on the obverse and a bridge and a map on the reverse. The note measures 82 mm by 153 mm. 
  • €500 is a purple banknote of Modern architecture style that depicts a piece of a building facade on the obverse and a bridge and a map on the reverse. The note measures 82 mm by 160 mm.  

The design of the second series almost completely reproduces the first one. The only difference is the currency name added in one more script. So now there are three scripts of the name ‘euro’ on banknotes - Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic, which is linked to Bulgaria’s accession to the EU. 

A Latin letter denoting the country where the banknote was issued always precedes the serial number. However, this letter does not usually correspond to the country’s name. For example, Austria is represented by the letter N, Spain - by V, Germany - by X. 


Fractional currency is issued in many denominations, like 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, €1, and €2. The demand for these coins depends on pricing policies in the countries. Bigger fractional money - 50c, €1, and €2 - is mostly used in the states where prices are divisible by 5c. In other states, 1c- and 2c-coins are more widespread. 

The design of the euro coins varies by country, which they are issued for. However, the reverse side that features the minted denomination and the map of Europe is common for all coins. 

The Euro Circulation around the World

The cash circulation of this currency is €950 billion, which makes it the second in the world after the US dollar. Besides, the euro is the second most traded currency used in various financial transactions with a volume of 35%.