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The euro

The euro brings us together

On 1 January 1999, 11 countries of the European Union (EU) fixed their exchange rates, adopted a shared monetary policy under the European Central Bank and launched the euro as their new common currency. The euro was initially an electronic currency used by financial markets and for cashless payments. Euro banknotes and coins entered into circulation, and found their way into our pockets, three years later.

Today, the euro is the currency of 19 EU countries and over 340 million Europeans. It is one of the most important currencies in the world and we at the European Central Bank are entrusted with safeguarding its value.

Euro banknotes and coins are tangible, everyday reminders of the freedom, convenience and opportunities that the EU brings you.

The Eurosystem cash strategy

To ensure that you remain free to choose cash as a way to pay both now and in the future, the ECB and the central banks of the euro area are pursuing five strategic objectives. Our strategy ensures that cash remains accessible to all and continues to be accepted as a competitive and reliable means of payment and a store of value.

Our strategic objectives for cash

Why is cash important?

Although people are using digital payments more, cash remains indispensable and has an important role to play. It is the only form of money that can be owned and used directly by anyone. Cash allows for autonomy, privacy and social inclusion and is less vulnerable to cybercrime and fraud. And, because it is central bank money, it is protected against default.

Learn more about the role of cash

How do people in the euro area like to pay?

We asked 65,000 euro area citizens to track how they paid for items in a diary for one year. The findings of the study revealed valuable information about which means of payment people prefer to use and how important cash is for them in today’s digital world.

Read the findings

Stronger together

The euro makes our lives easier by making it simpler to work, trade, travel, study and live abroad. We at the ECB work for a future where the euro contributes even more to your well-being.

President Lagarde: what the euro represents

How does the euro help Europeans do business?

Small and medium-sized enterprises form the backbone of the euro area economy. Find out how entrepreneurs and small business owners benefit from the single currency.

Watch

Secure and long-lasting banknotes

We invest in research on new technologies to make banknotes more secure and resistant to wear and tear. Between 2013 and 2019, we launched a second series of banknotes, the Europa series, which includes innovative security features.

Explore euro banknotes in 3D

The Europa series is now complete

The new €100 and €200 banknotes entered into circulation in May 2019. They are the final addition to the Europa series of banknotes, which are more durable and have new security features.

Explore euro banknotes in 3D
CASH PROFESSIONALS
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MORE ABOUT THE EURO

Discover more about banknotes-related topics

Data on banknote circulation

We carefully study the circulation of and demand for euro banknotes, so that you will always have access to euro banknotes.

Statistics on banknote and coin circulation

The international role of the euro

The euro is one of the most important currencies in the world. We keep an eye on and report on the use of the euro outside the euro area.

Read our most recent report
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How does a country join the euro area?

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