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EUROat25 - The journey of the euro
The journey of the euro
  1. 1951
    European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC)

    Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany agree to create a common market under supranational regulation for coal and steel. The idea behind this community was to withdraw the resources that had been vital for the world wars – coal and steel – from national sovereignty in order to preserve lasting peace. This milestone represents the beginning of economic integration and the very first step towards the creation of a single market. Building on this success, the six countries later agree to integrate other sectors of their economies with the aim of removing trade barriers and forming a common market. The European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) are formed in 1957. 

  2. 1970
    Werner Report

    Europe's leaders set up a high-level group led by Pierre Werner, the Luxembourg Prime Minister at the time, to report on how an Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) could be achieved within 10 years. The resulting report is issued in October 1970.

  3. 1979
    European Monetary System

    The project for an Economic and Monetary Union moves ahead with the creation of the European Monetary System (EMS) and the European Currency Unit (ECU), a virtual currency used as a unit of account. Within the European Monetary System, EU countries agree to keep their currency within a determined fluctuation band. This is the start of the exchange rate mechanism. 

  4. 1989
    Delors Committee: ‘one market, one money’

    The success of the European Monetary System provides the impetus for further discussions between EU countries on how to achieve an Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). The ‘Delors Committee’ is set up to examine specific, gradual steps towards a single currency. The resulting report proposes concrete steps to achieve an EMU.

  5. 1990
    Free movement of capital

    First step of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU): all restrictions on the movement of capital between EU countries are abolished. 

  6. 1992
    Maastricht Treaty

    European leaders approve the new Treaty on European Union, in Maastricht, the Netherlands. The treaty includes the provisions needed to implement the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). Leaders agree on the criteria that each Member State must meet to adopt the single currency. 

  7. 1994
    European Monetary Institute

    Second step of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU): the European Monetary Institute (EMI) is set up in Frankfurt. The EMI carried out all the preparatory work for the ECB to assume its responsibility for monetary policy in the euro area. Monetary policies are increasingly coordinated and economic convergence is strengthened. 

  8. 1998
    European Central Bank

    On 1 June 1998, the European Central Bank (ECB) becomes operational in Frankfurt, replacing the EMI. It is established as the core of the Eurosystem and the European System of Central Banks (ESCB), together with all national central banks of the EU member states. 

  9. 1999
    The euro is born

    Third step of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU): after a decade of preparations, on 1 January 1999, exchange rates are irrevocably fixed between the 11 participating EU countries. Authority over monetary policy is transferred from national central banks to the European Central Bank. The euro is launched as an accounting currency on financial markets and used for electronic payments. It becomes the official currency of Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. In 2001, Greece becomes the 12 country to adopt the euro. 

  10. 2002
    The euro in our pockets

    After three years of using the euro as an ‘accounting currency’ alongside national currencies, the 12 countries swap their old notes and coins for euros. It is the largest currency changeover in history. 

  11. 2007
    Slovenia joins the euro area
  12. 2008
    Cyprus joins the euro area
  13. 2008
    Malta joins the euro area
  14. 2008
    The global financial crisis and the EU response

    In 2008, the global economic and financial crisis begins and spreads to the euro area. Some countries such as Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain are particularly affected. The EU institutions take swift action to provide financial assistance to these countries and to strengthen the governance and resilience of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). In the following years, a number of major initiatives are launched, including the rescue funds EFSF (2010) and the ESM European Stability Mechanism (ESM) in 2012, the European Semester, and the Banking Union

  15. 2009
    Slovakia joins the euro area
  16. 2012
    Action to preserve the euro

    In July 2012, in order to restore market confidence and to support euro area countries under pressure, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi announces: “Within our mandate, the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro. And believe me, it will be enough.” The statement is followed by a number of measures designed to instil confidence and ensure that the financial markets work properly. This decisive response by the ECB, together with liquidity for banks, low interest rates and future measures like the quantitative easing programme, supports economic growth across the euro area and contributes to a return to the inflation target. The actions taken by the European Union and its Member States put Europe back on a path of recovery.

  17. 2014
    Latvia joins the euro area
  18. 2014
    A unified system to supervise banks in Europe

    Supervision of banks in countries using the euro is brought under the Single Supervisory Mechanism, led by the European Central Bank. The purpose of European banking supervision is to make sure that banks in Europe are safe.

  19. 2015
    Lithuania joins the euro area
  20. 2015 and onwards
    Deepening the Economic and Monetary Union

    In June 2015, the presidents of five European institutions - the European Commission, the European Council, the European Central Bank, the European Parliament and the Eurogroup - publish a vision for deepening the Economic and Monetary Union, known as the ‘Five Presidents’ Report’. These ideas are developed further in several reflection papers in 2017. Implementation begins with the EMU deepening package proposed by the Commission in December 2017, which includes further steps to increase the unity, efficiency and democratic accountability of the EMU and to complete the Banking Union.

    In 2015, the Juncker Commission also puts forward the Investment Plan for Europe to reinvigorate investment and boost growth and jobs. A plan to create a true single market for capital in the EU, the Capital Markets Union, is also launched.

  21. 2020
    EU comprehensive response to the coronavirus pandemic

    The EU, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), and Member States respond quickly, forcefully and in a coordinated manner to the coronavirus (COVID 19) pandemic. The Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) directly supervises the around 110 biggest banks and coordinates the supervision of more than 3000 smaller banks. All economic policy tools are activated to support Member States' in protecting their citizens and mitigating the pandemic's severely negative socio-economic consequences. 

    The new SURE instrument provides up to €100 billion in the form of loans granted on favourable terms from the EU to Member States to help protect jobs and workers affected by the pandemic. The European Investment Bank Group proposes a new mechanism to mobilise up to €200 billion in resources for viable firms affected by the crisis. The ESM creates a safety net for sovereigns in the form of the Pandemic Crisis Support instrument. 

    As part of the €800 billion NextGenerationEU, the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) makes grants and loans available to support reforms and investments in EU countries. The objective is to mitigate the economic and social damage of the crisis while making European economies and societies more sustainable, resilient and better prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the green and digital transitions. 

    The ECB launches its €1.85 trillion temporary asset purchase programme, the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP), to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the euro area economy and to support all Europeans. 

  22. 2021
    Eurosystem launches digital euro project

    The ECB launches the investigation phase of a digital euro project, which lasts until October 2023. The aim is to look into the possible issuance of a digital euro, an electronic equivalent to cash that would give people an additional choice about how to pay.  

    Reacting on high and fast rising inflation - partly because of high energy prices caused by the Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine - the ECB ends its net asset purchases under the APP and PEPP programs and starts to raise interest rates from negative territory up to a range of 4-4.75 % (deposit facility rate to marginal lending rate). 

  23. 2023
    Croatia joins the euro area