The euro, enshrined as a goal in the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, born as a virtual currency in 1999 and first appearing as cash in people’s pockets in 2002, is an important and tangible manifestation of this community of values.Of course, the euro is not the currency of all European Union member countries: many of the newer EU members are still working towards meeting the conditions required to adopt the single currency while the UK and Denmark have negotiated opt-outs from the obligation to join.
But, while our economic and monetary union (EMU) is clearly still evolving, the scale of the achievement and its positive impact on the lives of Europeans remain considerable. The euro area’s 13 member countries and more than 315 million citizens make it one of the world’s largest economic powers. Given that 2007 marks another important milestone – five years of using euro notes and coins in our everyday life – it is worth recalling the benefits the single currency has brought.
We all gain from the stability created by the macroeconomic framework of EMU which brings price stability and sound public finances. Individuals and enterprises benefit from the ease with which they can travel and conduct business across borders. EMU facilitates trade integration, reduces costs and can help us generate growth and jobs. A single currency makes prices comparable, leading to greater competition and more opportunity. As capital markets integrate, investment becomes easier and cheaper. The euro’s emergence as a strong international currency in turn grants Europe a stronger role in the world. With the euro now a familiar part of daily life from the Mediterranean to the Arctic Circle, it provides tangible evidence of our common European identity.
Making the common currency a reality is a remarkable achievement of which all Europeans can be proud. The story of that achievement – how the euro came into being, how it is managed and the benefits it brings – is set out in this brochure. I hope you enjoy reading it."
Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs