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The euro is the official single currency used by the current 19 members of the eurozone.

It came into being officially on January 1, 1999, as the common currency for an initial 11 countries: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain.

The initial countries were also joined by the sovereign microstates of San Marino, Monaco, Andorra, and the Vatican City.

Greece joined 2 years later on January 1, 2001.

Poland, Denmark, and Sweden are European Union member countries that did not adopt the euro.

From its inception in 1999, when 11 countries launched the euro, it has since grown its membership to 19 countries. Later members were Lithuania, Latvia, Slovakia, Cyprus, Slovenia, Malta, and Estonia.

After the U.S. dollar, the euro is the world’s second-largest reserve currency and the second most traded in the world.

The eurozone, the group of countries that use the euro,  represents the largest GDP zone in the world, with the United States in second place.

The euro was brought into being for a number of reasons.

Among them, policy-makers wanted to integrate Europe further and also to strengthen Europe’s ability to compete as a continent on the world stage, especially with North America and Asia.