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Euro area
Policy ofFlag of Europe.svg  European Union
Type Monetary union
Currency Euro
Established1 January 1999
Political control Eurogroup
Group president Mário Centeno
Issuing authority European Central Bank
ECB president Mario Draghi
Area2,753,828 km2
Population(2018)341,464,266 Increase2.svg [1]
GDP (Nominal)(2018)Total: €11.6(~US$13.0) trillion
Per capita: €33,900(~US$38,000) [2]
Interest rate 0.00% [3]
Inflation0.2% [4]
Unemployment(2018)8.2% [5]
Trade balance €0.2 trillion trade surplus [6]
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The eurozone, officially called the euro area, [7] is a monetary union of 19 of the 28 European Union (EU) member states which have adopted the euro () as their common currency and sole legal tender. The monetary authority of the eurozone is the Eurosystem. The other nine members of the European Union continue to use their own national currencies, although most of them are obliged to adopt the euro in the future.

Member state of the European Union state that is party to treaties of the European Union (EU)

The European Union (EU) consists of 28 member states. Each member state is party to the founding treaties of the union and thereby subject to the privileges and obligations of membership. Unlike members of most international organisations, the member states of the EU are subjected to binding laws in exchange for representation within the common legislative and judicial institutions. Member states must agree unanimously for the EU to adopt policies concerning defence and foreign policy. Subsidiarity is a founding principle of the EU.

Euro European currency

The euro is the official currency of 19 of the 28 member states of the European Union. This group of states is known as the eurozone or euro area, and counts about 343 million citizens as of 2019. The euro is the second largest and second most traded currency in the foreign exchange market after the United States dollar. The euro is subdivided into 100 cents.

Euro sign currency sign

The euro sign () is the currency sign used for the euro, the official currency of the European Union (EU) and some non-EU countries. The design was presented to the public by the European Commission on 12 December 1996. It consists of a stylized letter E, crossed by two lines instead of one. The character is encoded in Unicode at U+20ACEURO SIGN. In English, the sign precedes the value. In some style guides, the euro sign is not spaced (10€).


The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain. Other EU states (except for Denmark and the United Kingdom) are obliged to join once they meet the criteria to do so. [8] No state has left, and there are no provisions to do so or to be expelled. [9] Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City have formal agreements with the EU to use the euro as their official currency and issue their own coins. [10] [11] [12] Kosovo and Montenegro have adopted the euro unilaterally, [13] but these countries do not officially form part of the eurozone and do not have representation in the European Central Bank (ECB) or in the Eurogroup. [14]

Austria Federal republic in Central Europe

Austria, officially the Republic of Austria, is a country in Central Europe comprising 9 federated states. Its capital, largest city and one of nine states is Vienna. Austria has an area of 83,879 km2 (32,386 sq mi), a population of nearly 9 million people and a nominal GDP of $477 billion. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The terrain is highly mountainous, lying within the Alps; only 32% of the country is below 500 m (1,640 ft), and its highest point is 3,798 m (12,461 ft). The majority of the population speaks local Bavarian dialects as their native language, and German in its standard form is the country's official language. Other regional languages are Hungarian, Burgenland Croatian, and Slovene.

Belgium Federal constitutional monarchy in Western Europe

Belgium, officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, and the North Sea to the northwest. It covers an area of 30,688 square kilometres (11,849 sq mi) and has a population of more than 11.4 million. The capital and largest city is Brussels; other major cities are Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi and Liège.

Cyprus Island country in Mediterranean

Cyprus, officially the Republic of Cyprus, is an island country in the Eastern Mediterranean and the third largest and third most populous island in the Mediterranean, located south of Turkey, west of Syria and Lebanon, northwest of Israel, north of Egypt, and southeast of Greece.

The ECB, which is governed by a president and a board of the heads of national central banks, sets the monetary policy of the zone. The principal task of the ECB is to keep inflation under control. Though there is no common representation, governance or fiscal policy for the currency union, some co-operation does take place through the Eurogroup, which makes political decisions regarding the eurozone and the euro. The Eurogroup is composed of the finance ministers of eurozone states, but in emergencies, national leaders also form the Eurogroup.

Central bank public institution that manages a states currency, money supply, and interest rates

A central bank, reserve bank, or monetary authority is the institution that manages the currency, money supply, and interest rates of a state or formal monetary union, and oversees their commercial banking system. In contrast to a commercial bank, a central bank possesses a monopoly on increasing the monetary base in the state, and also generally controls the printing/coining of the national currency, which serves as the state's legal tender. A central bank also acts as a lender of last resort to the banking sector during times of financial crisis. Most central banks also have supervisory and regulatory powers to ensure the solvency of member institutions, to prevent bank runs, and to discourage reckless or fraudulent behavior by member banks.

Monetary policy subclass of the economic policy

Monetary policy is the process by which the monetary authority of a country, typically the central bank or currency board, controls either the cost of very short-term borrowing or the money supply, often targeting an inflation rate or interest rate to ensure price stability and general trust in the currency.

Fiscal policy use of government revenue collection and spending to influence the economy

In economics and political science, fiscal policy is the use of government revenue collection and expenditure (spending) to influence the economy. Fiscal policy is often used to stabilize the economy over the course of the business cycle.

Since the financial crisis of 2007–08, the eurozone has established and used provisions for granting emergency loans to member states in return for enacting economic reforms. The eurozone has also enacted some limited fiscal integration: for example, in peer review of each other's national budgets. The issue is political and in a state of flux in terms of what further provisions will be agreed for eurozone change.

Fiscal union

Fiscal union is the integration of the fiscal policy of nations or states. Under fiscal union decisions about the collection and expenditure of taxes are taken by common institutions, shared by the participating governments.


European Union member states

In 1998, eleven member states of the European Union had met the euro convergence criteria, and the eurozone came into existence with the official launch of the euro (alongside national currencies) on 1 January 1999. Greece qualified in 2000, and was admitted on 1 January 2001 before physical notes and coins were introduced on 1 January 2002, replacing all national currencies. Between 2007 and 2015, seven new states acceded.

The euro convergence criteria are the criteria which European Union member states are required to meet to enter the third stage of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and adopt the euro as their currency. The four main criteria, which actually comprise five criteria as the "fiscal criterion" consists of both a "debt criterion" and a "deficit criterion", are based on Article 140 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Euro banknotes

Banknotes of the euro, the currency of the euro area and institutions, have been in circulation since the first series was issued in 2002. They are issued by the national central banks of the Eurosystem or the European Central Bank. In 1999 the euro was introduced virtually, and in 2002 notes and coins began to circulate. The euro rapidly took over from the former national currencies and slowly expanded around the European Union.

There are eight euro coin denominations, ranging from one cent to two euros. The coins first came into use in 2002. They have a common reverse, portraying a map of Europe, but each country in the eurozone has its own design on the obverse, which means that each coin has a variety of different designs in circulation at once. Four European microstates which use the euro as their currency also have the right to mint coins with their own designs on the obverse side.

State Adopted Population [15]
Nominal GNI
millions) [16]
Relative GNI
of total, nominal
GNI per
2014 (USD)
Exceptions ISO
Flag of Austria.svg  Austria 1999-01-01 [18] 8,712,137423,9063.18%49,670 Schilling AT
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium 1999-01-01 [18] 11,358,379530,5584.18%47,260 Franc BE
Flag of Cyprus.svg  Cyprus 2008-01-01 [19] 1,170,12522,5190.18%26,370 Pound Flag of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.svg  Northern Cyprus [lower-alpha 1] CY
Flag of Estonia.svg  Estonia 2011-01-01 [20] 1,312,44224,9940.20%19,030 Kroon EE
Flag of Finland.svg  Finland 1999-01-01 [18] 5,503,132264,5542.08%48,420 Markka FI
Flag of France.svg  France 1999-01-01 [18] 64,720,6902,844,28422.39%42,960 Franc Flag of FLNKS.svg  New Caledonia [lower-alpha 2]
Flag of French Polynesia.svg  French Polynesia [lower-alpha 2]
Flag of France.svg  Wallis and Futuna [lower-alpha 2]
Flag of Germany.svg  Germany 1999-01-01 [18] 81,914,6723,853,62330.34%47,640 Mark DE
Flag of Greece.svg  Greece 2001-01-01 [21] 11,183,716250,0951.97%22,680 Drachma GR
Flag of Ireland.svg  Ireland 1999-01-01 [18] 4,726,078214,7111.69%46,550 Pound IE
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy 1999-01-01 [18] 59,429,9382,147,24716.91%34,270 Lira Flag of Campione d'Italia.svg Campione d'Italia [lower-alpha 3] IT
Flag of Latvia.svg  Latvia 2014-01-01 [22] 1,970,53030,4130.24%15,280 Lats LV
Flag of Lithuania.svg  Lithuania 2015-01-01 [23] 2,908,24945,1850.36%15,430 Litas LT
Flag of Luxembourg.svg  Luxembourg 1999-01-01 [18] 575,74742,2560.33%75,990 Franc LU
Flag of Malta.svg  Malta 2008-01-01 [24] 429,3628,8890.07%21,000 Lira MT
Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands 1999-01-01 [18] 16,987,330874,5906.89%51,890 Guilder Flag of Aruba.svg  Aruba [lower-alpha 4]
Flag of Curacao.svg Curaçao [lower-alpha 5]
Flag of Sint Maarten.svg Sint Maarten [lower-alpha 5]
Flag of the Netherlands.svg Caribbean Netherlands [lower-alpha 6]
Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal 1999-01-01 [18] 10,371,627222,1261.75%21,360 Escudo PT
Flag of Slovakia.svg  Slovakia 2009-01-01 [25] 5,444,21896,2000.76%17,750 Koruna SK
Flag of Slovenia.svg  Slovenia 2007-01-01 [26] 2,077,86248,6250.38%23,580 Tolar SI
Flag of Spain.svg  Spain 1999-01-01 [18] 46,347,5761,366,02710.75%29,440 Peseta ES
Flag of Europe.svg Eurozone337,143,81013,265,378100%39,162N/AN/AEZ [lower-alpha 7]

The 2012 data above of eurozone states does not include Latvia and Lithuania as they were not yet a part of the eurozone.

Dependent territories of EU member states — outside EU

Five of the dependent territories of EU member states not part of the EU, have adopted the euro:

Non-member usage

Eurozone participation
European Union (EU) member states
19 in the eurozone.
7 not in ERM II, but obliged to join the eurozone on meeting convergence criteria (Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Sweden).
1 in ERM II, with an opt-out (Denmark).
1 not in ERM II with an opt-out (United Kingdom).
Non-EU member states
4 using the euro with a monetary agreement (Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City).
2 using the euro unilaterally (Kosovo and Montenegro).
e Eurozone participation.svg
Eurozone participation
European Union (EU) member states
  19 in the eurozone.
  7 not in ERM II, but obliged to join the eurozone on meeting convergence criteria (Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Sweden).
  1 in ERM II, with an opt-out (Denmark).
  1 not in ERM II with an opt-out (United Kingdom).
Non-EU member states
  4 using the euro with a monetary agreement (Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City).
  2 using the euro unilaterally (Kosovo and Montenegro).

With formal agreement

The euro is also used in countries outside the EU. Four states – Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City — [10] [13] have signed formal agreements with the EU to use the euro and issue their own coins. Nevertheless, they are not considered part of the eurozone by the ECB and do not have a seat in the ECB or Euro Group.


Kosovo [lower-alpha 9] and Montenegro officially adopted the euro as their sole currency without an agreement and, therefore, have no issuing rights. [13] These states are not considered part of the eurozone by the ECB. However, sometimes the term eurozone is applied to all territories that have adopted the euro as their sole currency. [27] [28] [29] Further unilateral adoption of the euro (euroisation), by both non-euro EU and non-EU members, is opposed by the ECB and EU. [30]

Historical eurozone enlargements and exchange-rate regimes for EU members

The chart below provides a full summary of all applying exchange-rate regimes for EU members, since the European Monetary System with its Exchange Rate Mechanism and the related new common currency ECU was born on 13 March 1979. The euro replaced the ECU 1:1 at the exchange rate markets, on 1 January 1999. During 1979-1999, the D-Mark functioned as a de facto anchor for the ECU, meaning there was only a minor difference between pegging a currency against ECU and pegging it against the D-mark.


Sources: EC convergence reports 1996-2014, Italian lira [ dead link ], Spanish peseta, Portuguese escudo, Finish markka, Greek drachma, UK pound

The eurozone was born with its first 11 member states on 1 January 1999. The first enlargement of the eurozone, to Greece, took place on 1 January 2001, one year before the euro had physically entered into circulation. The next enlargements were to states which joined the EU in 2004, and then joined the eurozone on 1 January in the year noted: Slovenia (2007), Cyprus (2008), Malta (2008), Slovakia (2009), Estonia (2011), Latvia (2014), and Lithuania (2015).

All new EU members joining the bloc after the signing of the Maastricht treaty in 1992 are obliged to adopt the euro under the terms of their accession treaties. However, the last of the five economic convergence criteria which need first to be complied with in order to qualify for euro adoption, is the exchange rate stability criterion, which requires having been an ERM-member for a minimum of two years without the presence of "severe tensions" for the currency exchange rate.

In September 2011, a diplomatic source close to the euro adoption preparation talks with the seven remaining new member states who had yet to adopt the euro (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania), claimed that the monetary union (eurozone) they had thought they were going to join upon their signing of the accession treaty may very well end up being a very different union entailing much closer fiscal, economic and political convergence. This changed legal status of the eurozone could potentially cause them to conclude that the conditions for their promise to join were no longer valid, which "could force them to stage new referendums" on euro adoption. [31]

Future enlargement

Council of EuropeSchengen AreaEuropean Free Trade AssociationEuropean Economic AreaEurozoneEuropean UnionEuropean Union Customs UnionAgreement with EU to mint eurosGUAMCentral European Free Trade AgreementNordic CouncilBaltic AssemblyBeneluxVisegrád GroupCommon Travel AreaOrganization of the Black Sea Economic CooperationUnion StateSwitzerlandIcelandNorwayLiechtensteinSwedenDenmarkFinlandPolandCzech RepublicHungarySlovakiaGreeceEstoniaLatviaLithuaniaBelgiumNetherlandsLuxembourgItalyFranceSpainAustriaGermanyPortugalSloveniaMaltaCyprusIrelandUnited KingdomCroatiaRomaniaBulgariaTurkeyMonacoAndorraSan MarinoVatican CityGeorgiaUkraineAzerbaijanMoldovaArmeniaRussiaBelarusSerbiaAlbaniaMontenegroNorth MacedoniaBosnia and HerzegovinaKosovo (UNMIK)Eurozone
A clickable Euler diagram showing the relationships between various multinational European organisations and agreements.

Nine countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) are EU members but do not use the euro. Before joining the eurozone, a state must spend two years in the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM II). As of January 2017, only the National Central Bank (NCB) of Denmark participates in ERM II.

Denmark and the United Kingdom obtained special opt-outs in the original Maastricht Treaty. Both countries are legally exempt from joining the eurozone unless their governments decide otherwise, either by parliamentary vote or referendum.

The other seven countries are obliged to adopt the euro in future, although the EU has so far not tried to enforce any time plan. They should join as soon as they fulfill the convergence criteria, which include being part of ERM II for two years. Sweden, which joined the EU in 1995 after the Maastricht Treaty was signed, is required to join the eurozone. However, the Swedish people turned down euro adoption in a 2003 referendum and since then the country has intentionally avoided fulfilling the adoption requirements by not joining ERM II, which is voluntary. [32] [33]

Interest in joining the eurozone increased in Denmark, and initially in Poland, as a result of the 2008 financial crisis. In Iceland, there was an increase in interest in joining the European Union, a pre-condition for adopting the euro. [34] However, by 2010 the debt crisis in the eurozone caused interest from Poland, as well as the Czech Republic, to cool. [35] Latvia adopted the Euro in 2014, followed by Lithuania in 2015. [36]

Expulsion and withdrawal

In the opinion of journalist Leigh Phillips and Locke Lord's Charles Proctor, [37] [38] there is no provision in any European Union treaty for an exit from the eurozone. In fact, they argued, the Treaties make it clear that the process of monetary union was intended to be "irreversible" and "irrevocable." [38] However, in 2009, a European Central Bank legal study argued that, while voluntary withdrawal is legally not possible, expulsion remains "conceivable." [39] Although an explicit provision for an exit option does not exist, many experts and politicians in Europe, have suggested an option to leave the Eurozone should be included in the relevant treaties. [40]

On the issue of leaving the eurozone, the European Commission has stated that "[t]he irrevocability of membership in the euro area is an integral part of the Treaty framework and the Commission, as a guardian of the EU Treaties, intends to fully respect [that irrevocability]." [41] It added that it "does not intend to propose [any] amendment" to the relevant Treaties, the current status being "the best way going forward to increase the resilience of euro area Member States to potential economic and financial crises. [41] The European Central Bank, responding to a question by a Member of the European Parliament, has stated that an exit is not allowed under the Treaties. [42]

Likewise there is no provision for a state to be expelled from the euro. [43] Some, however, including the Dutch government, favour the creation of an expulsion provision for the case whereby a heavily indebted state in the eurozone refuses to comply with an EU economic reform policy. [44]

In a Texas law journal, University of Texas at Austin law professor Jens Dammann has argued that even now EU law contains an implicit right for member states to leave the Eurozone if they no longer meet the criteria that they had to meet in order to join it. [45] Furthermore, he has suggested that, under narrow circumstances, the European Union can expel member states from the eurozone. [46]

University of California, Berkeley professor of Economics and Political Science Barry Eichengreen, argued in 2007 that "Europe’s leap to monetary union was a mistake...compounded by...including [in the union] also...Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece," and that "although a breakup was not was unlikely," given the technical, political and above all economic obstacles. "On the first minute that word got out," Eisengreen argued, "that the [Greek] government was discussing the possibility [of a Grexit] investors would sell their Greek stocks and bonds" and there "would be a full-fledged financial panic... a full-out bank run." [47] In 2011, he still believed the probability of Grexit was "very low" and in case of any bank run "the Greek government would almost certainly receive support for its banks from its European Union partners and the European Central Bank, because, in his view, more financial crises in other European countries are... the last thing that German business wants." As he put it, "the German economic miracle of the last ten years can be summed up in one word: exports. And the country’s export competitiveness has been greatly enhanced by a euro exchange rate that has been kept down at reasonable levels by the fact that Germany shares the currency with other weaker economies." [47]

In Greece's case, one additional obstacle presented by analysts is that if Greece were to replace the euro with a new national currency, this would not be possible to achieve quickly enough. Paper banknotes must be printed and coins minted, which would take about "six months." [48] The changeover, according to a blogger in The Economist , would likely require bank deposits to be converted from euros to the new currency and this prospect could lead to money leaving the country as well as Greek residents withdrawing cash from the banks, causing a bank run and necessitating capital controls. [49]

Administration and representation

Eurogroup President Mario Centeno Mario Centeno, Informal ECOFIN, 2016-09-10.jpg
Eurogroup President Mário Centeno
The European Central Bank (seat in Frankfurt depicted) is the supranational monetary authority of the eurozone. Frankfurt EZB-Neubau.20130909.jpg
The European Central Bank (seat in Frankfurt depicted) is the supranational monetary authority of the eurozone.

The monetary policy of all countries in the eurozone is managed by the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Eurosystem which comprises the ECB and the central banks of the EU states who have joined the eurozone. Countries outside the eurozone are not represented in these institutions. Whereas all EU member states are part of the European System of Central Banks (ESCB), non EU member states have no say in all three institutions, even those with monetary agreements such as Monaco. The ECB is entitled to authorise the design and printing of euro banknotes and the volume of euro coins minted, and its president is currently Mario Draghi.

The eurozone is represented politically by its finance ministers, known collectively as the Eurogroup, and is presided over by a president, currently Mário Centeno. The finance ministers of the EU member states that use the euro meet a day before a meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (Ecofin) of the Council of the European Union. The Group is not an official Council formation but when the full EcoFin council votes on matters only affecting the eurozone, only Euro Group members are permitted to vote on it. [50] [51] [52]

Since the global financial crisis of 2007–08, the Euro Group has met irregularly not as finance ministers, but as heads of state and government (like the European Council). It is in this forum, the Euro summit, that many eurozone reforms have been decided upon. In 2011, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy pushed for these summits to become regular and twice a year in order for it to be a 'true economic government'.


In April 2008 in Brussels, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker suggested that the eurozone should be represented at the IMF as a bloc, rather than each member state separately: "It is absurd for those 15 countries not to agree to have a single representation at the IMF. It makes us look absolutely ridiculous. We are regarded as buffoons on the international scene". [53] In 2017 Juncker stated that he aims to have this agreed by the end of his mandate in 2019. [54] However, Finance Commissioner Joaquín Almunia stated that before there is common representation, a common political agenda should be agreed upon. [53]

Leading EU figures including the Commission and national governments have proposed a variety of reforms to the eurozone's architecture; notably the creation of a Finance Minister, a larger eurozone budget, and reform of the current bailout mechanisms into either a "European Monetary Fund" or a eurozone Treasury. While many have similar themes, details vary greatly. [55] [56] [57] [58]


Eurozone. GNI PPP per capita(current international $), World Bank 2017 Eurozone. GNI PPP per capita, PPP (current international $) World bank 2017.png
Eurozone. GNI PPP per capita(current international $), World Bank 2017

Comparison table

Comparison of eurozone with other economies [59] [60] [61]
(trillions USD)
of world
at PPP

% of GDP
% of GDP
Logo European Central Bank.svg Eurozone0.341511%27%25%
Flag of Europe.svg  European Union 0.512217%18%17%
Flag of the United States.svg  United States 0.332116%14%17%
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China 1.402518%26%24%
Flag of India.svg  India 1.35107%24%31%
Flag of Japan.svg  Japan 0.1364%15%17%

^a GDP in PPP, exports/imports of goods and services excluding intra-EU trade.

Comparison of Economies
Nominal GDP (billions in USD) - Peak year as of 2018
(01) Flag of the United States.svg  United States (Peak in 2018)
(02) Logo European Central Bank.svg Eurozone(Peak in 2018)
(03) Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China (Peak in 2018)
(04) Flag of Japan.svg  Japan (Peak in 2012)
(05) Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom (Peak in 2007)
(06) Flag of India.svg  India (Peak in 2018)
(07) Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil (Peak in 2011)
(08) Flag of Russia.svg  Russia (Peak in 2013)
(09) Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada (Peak in 2013)
(10) Flag of South Korea.svg  South Korea (Peak in 2018)
(11) Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia (Peak in 2012)
(12) Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico (Peak in 2014)
(13) Flag of Indonesia.svg  Indonesia (Peak in 2017)
(14) Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey (Peak in 2013)
(15) Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg  Saudi Arabia (Peak in 2018)
(16) Flag of Switzerland.svg   Switzerland (Peak in 2014)
(17) Flag of Argentina.svg  Argentina (Peak in 2015)
(18) Flag of the Republic of China.svg  Taiwan (Peak in 2018)
(19) Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden (Peak in 2013)
(20) Flag of Poland.svg  Poland (Peak in 2018)

The 20 largest economies in the world including Eurozone as a single entity, by Nominal GDP (2018) at their peak level of GDP in billions US$. The values for EU members that are not also eurozone members are listed both separately and as part of the EU. [62]


HICP figures from the ECB, taken from May of each year:

  • 2000: 1.7%
  • 2001: 3.1%
  • 2002: 2.0%
  • 2003: 1.8%
  • 2004: 2.5%
  • 2005: 2.0%
  • 2006: 2.5%
  • 2007: 1.9%
  • 2008: 3.7%
  • 2009: 0.0%
  • 2010: 1.7%
  • 2011: 2.7%
  • 2012: 2.4%
  • 2013: 0.9%
  • 2014: -0,2%
  • 2015: 0.3%
  • 2016: -0.1%
  • 2017: 1.4%
  • 2018: N/A
  • 2019: N/A

Interest rates

Interest rates for the eurozone, set by the ECB since 1999. Levels are in percentages per annum. Between June 2000 and October 2008, the main refinancing operations were variable rate tenders, as opposed to fixed rate tenders. The figures indicated in the table from 2000 to 2008 refer to the minimum interest rate at which counterparties may place their bids. [3]


1999-01-04 [lower-alpha 10] 2.753.003.25

Public debt

The following table states the ratio of public debt to GDP in percent for eurozone countries given by EuroStat [63] . The euro convergence criterion is 60%.

Flag of Austria.svg Austria64.779.782.482.286.283.678.4
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium87.099.699.7102.3106.0105.7103.1
Flag of Cyprus.svg Cyprus53.553.956.365.8108.9107.197.5
Flag of Estonia.svg Estonia3.
Flag of Finland.svg Finland34.041.747.148.563.163.161.4
Flag of France.svg France64.379.081.785.295.896.597.0
Flag of Germany.svg Germany63.772.481.078.371.268.164.1
Flag of Greece.svg Greece103.1126.7146.2172.1176.9180.8178.6
Flag of Ireland.svg Ireland23.961.886.8109.193.872.868.0
Flag of Italy.svg Italy99.8112.5115.4116.5132.7132131.8
Flag of Latvia.svg Latvia8.036.647.542.836.440.640.1
Flag of Lithuania.svg Lithuania15.929.
Flag of Luxembourg.svg Luxembourg7.716.
Flag of Malta.svg Malta62.367.867.669.963.957.650.8
Flag of the Netherlands.svg Netherlands42.756.559.061.765.161.856.7
Flag of Portugal.svg Portugal68.483.696.2111.4129.0130.1125.7
Flag of Slovakia.svg Slovakia30.141.043.343.352.951.850.9
Flag of Slovenia.svg Slovenia22.836.040.846.683.278.573.6
Flag of Spain.svg Spain35.652.760.169.599.299.098.3

Fiscal policies

Comparison of government surplus/deficit (2001-2012) of eurozone, United States and United Kingdom Government surplus or deficit (EU-USA-UK).png
Comparison of government surplus/deficit (2001-2012) of eurozone, United States and United Kingdom

The primary means for fiscal coordination within the EU lies in the Broad Economic Policy Guidelines which are written for every member state, but with particular reference to the 19 current members of the eurozone. These guidelines are not binding, but are intended to represent policy coordination among the EU member states, so as to take into account the linked structures of their economies.

For their mutual assurance and stability of the currency, members of the eurozone have to respect the Stability and Growth Pact, which sets agreed limits on deficits and national debt, with associated sanctions for deviation. The Pact originally set a limit of 3% of GDP for the yearly deficit of all eurozone member states; with fines for any state which exceeded this amount. In 2005, Portugal, Germany, and France had all exceeded this amount, but the Council of Ministers had not voted to fine those states. Subsequently, reforms were adopted to provide more flexibility and ensure that the deficit criteria took into account the economic conditions of the member states, and additional factors.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development downgraded its economic forecasts on 20 March 2008 for the eurozone for the first half of 2008. Europe does not have room to ease fiscal or monetary policy, the 30-nation group warned. For the eurozone, the OECD now forecasts first-quarter GDP growth of just 0.5%, with no improvement in the second quarter, which is expected to show just a 0.4% gain.

The Fiscal Compact [64] [65] (formally, the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union), [66] is an intergovernmental treaty introduced as a new stricter version of the Stability and Growth Pact, signed on 2 March 2012 by all member states of the European Union (EU), except the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, [67] and Croatia (subsequently acceding the EU in July 2013). The treaty entered into force on 1 January 2013 for the 16 states which completed ratification prior of this date. [68] As of 1 April 2014, it had been ratified and entered into force for all 25 signatories.

Olivier Blanchard suggests that a fiscal union in the EZ can mitigate devastating effects of the single currency on the EZ peripheral countries. But he adds that the currency bloc will not work perfectly even if a fiscal transfer system is built, because, he argues, the fundamental issue about competitiveness adjustment is not tackled. The problem is, since the EZ peripheral countries do not have their own currencies, they are forced to adjust their economies by decreasing their wages instead of devaluation. [69]

Bailout provisions

The financial crisis of 2007–08 prompted a number of reforms in the eurozone. One was a u-turn on the eurozone's bailout policy that led to the creation of a specific fund to assist eurozone states in trouble. The European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and the European Financial Stability Mechanism (EFSM) were created in 2010 to provide, alongside the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a system and fund to bail out members. However the EFSF and EFSM were temporary, small and lacked a basis in the EU treaties. Therefore, it was agreed in 2011 to establish a European Stability Mechanism (ESM) which would be much larger, funded only by eurozone states (not the EU as a whole as the EFSF/EFSM were) and would have a permanent treaty basis. As a result of that its creation involved agreeing an amendment to TEFU Article 136 allowing for the ESM and a new ESM treaty to detail how the ESM would operate. If both are successfully ratified according to schedule, the ESM would be operational by the time the EFSF/EFSM expire in mid-2013.

In February 2016, the UK secured further confirmation that countries that do not use the Euro would not be required to contribute to bailouts for Eurozone countries. [70]

Peer review

In June 2010, a broad agreement was finally reached on a controversial proposal for member states to peer review each other's budgets prior to their presentation to national parliaments. Although showing the entire budget to each other was opposed by Germany, Sweden and the UK, each government would present to their peers and the Commission their estimates for growth, inflation, revenue and expenditure levels six months before they go to national parliaments. If a country was to run a deficit, they would have to justify it to the rest of the EU while countries with a debt more than 60% of GDP would face greater scrutiny. [71]

The plans would apply to all EU members, not just the eurozone, and have to be approved by EU leaders along with proposals for states to face sanctions before they reach the 3% limit in the Stability and Growth Pact. Poland has criticised the idea of withholding regional funding for those who break the deficit limits, as that would only impact the poorer states. [71] In June 2010 France agreed to back Germany's plan for suspending the voting rights of members who breach the rules. [72] In March 2011 was initiated a new reform of the Stability and Growth Pact aiming at straightening the rules by adopting an automatic procedure for imposing of penalties in case of breaches of either the deficit or the debt rules. [73] [74]


Nobel prize-winning economist James Tobin thought that the euro project would not succeed without making drastic changes to European institutions, pointing out the difference between the US and the eurozone. [75] Concerning monetary policies, the US central bank FRB aims at both growth and reducing unemployment, while the ECB tends to give its first priority to price stability under Bundesbank's supervision. As the price level of the currency bloc is kept low, the unemployment level of the region has become higher than that of US since 1982. [75]

When it comes to fiscal policies, 12 percent of the US federal budget is used for transfers to states and local governments. Also, when a state has financial or economic difficulties, a fair amount of money is automatically transferred to the state. The US government does not impose restrictions on state budget policies. This is different from the fiscal policies of the eurozone, where Treaty of Maastricht requires each eurozone member country to run its budget deficit smaller than 3 percent of its GDP. [75]

In February 2019, a study from the Centre for European Policy concluded that while some countries had gained from adopting the euro, several countries were poorer than they would have been had they not adopted it, with France and Italy being particularly affected. The authors argued that this was down to its effect on competitiveness; usually countries would devalue their currencies to make their exports cheaper on the world market but this was not possible due to the common currency. [76]

Economic policemen

In 1997, Arnulf Baring expressed concern that the European Monetary Union would make Germans the most hated people in Europe. Baring suspected the possibility that the people in Mediterranean countries would regard Germans and the currency bloc as economic policemen. [77]

See also


  1. The self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is not recognised by the EU and uses the Turkish lira. However the euro does circulate widely.[ citation needed ]
  2. 1 2 3 French Pacific territories use the CFP franc, which is pegged to the euro.(1 franc = 0.00838 euro)
  3. Uses the Swiss franc. However the euro is also accepted and circulates widely.
  4. Aruba is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, but not the EU. It uses the Aruban florin, which is pegged to the US dollar.(1 dollar = 1.79 florins)
  5. 1 2 Currently uses the Netherlands Antillean guilder and had planned to introduce the Caribbean guilder in 2014, although the change has been delayed. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) both are pegged to the US dollar.(1 dollar = 1.79 guilder)
  6. Uses the US Dollar.
  7. EZ is not assigned, but is reserved for this purpose, in ISO-3166-1.
  8. Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the Brussels Agreement. Kosovo has been recognized as an independent state by 113 out of 193 United Nations member states, 10 of which have subsequently withdrawn recognition.
  9. Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia . The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory . The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the Brussels Agreement . Kosovo has been recognized as an independent state by 113 out of 193 United Nations member states , 10 of which have subsequently withdrawn recognition.
  10. The ECB announced on 22 December 1998 that, between 4 and 21 January 1999, there would be a narrow corridor of 50 base points interest rates for the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility in order to help the transition to the ECB's interest regime.

Related Research Articles

European Central Bank central bank for the euro

The European Central Bank (ECB) is the central bank for the euro and administers monetary policy of the Eurozone, which consists of 19 EU member states and is one of the largest currency areas in the world. It is one of the world's most important central banks and is one of the seven institutions of the European Union (EU) listed in the Treaty on European Union (TEU). The capital stock of the bank is owned by the central banks of all 28 EU member states. The Treaty of Amsterdam established the bank in 1998, and it is headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany. As of 2015 the President of the ECB is Mario Draghi, former governor of the Bank of Italy, former member of the World Bank, and former managing director of the Goldman Sachs international division (2002–2005). The bank primarily occupied the Eurotower prior to, and during, the construction of the new headquarters.

European Exchange Rate Mechanism European system to reduce exchange rate variability prior to the Euro

The European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) was a system introduced by the European Economic Community on 13 March 1979, as part of the European Monetary System (EMS), to reduce exchange rate variability and achieve monetary stability in Europe, in preparation for Economic and Monetary Union and the introduction of a single currency, the euro, which took place on 1 January 1999.

European System of Central Banks

The European System of Central Banks (ESCB) consists of the European Central Bank (ECB) and the national central banks (NCBs) of all 28 member states of the European Union (EU).

Lithuania and the euro adoption of the euro by Lithuania

Lithuania is an EU member state which joined the Eurozone by adopting the euro on 1 January 2015.

Czech Republic and the euro

The Czech Republic is bound to adopt the euro in the future and to join the eurozone once it has satisfied the euro convergence criteria by the Treaty of Accession since it joined the European Union (EU) in 2004. The Czech Republic is therefore a candidate for the enlargement of the eurozone and it uses the Czech koruna as its currency, regulated by the Czech National Bank, a member of the European System of Central Banks, and does not participate in European Exchange Rate Mechanism II.

Latvian euro coins

Latvia replaced its previous currency, the lats, with the euro on 1 January 2014, after a European Union (EU) assessment in June 2013 asserted that the country had met all convergence criteria necessary for euro adoption. The adoption process began 1 May 2004, when Latvia joined the European Union, entering the EU's Economic and Monetary Union. At the start of 2005, the lats was pegged to the euro at Ls 0.702804 = €1, and Latvia joined the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, four months later on 2 May 2005.

Romania and the euro

Romania is required by its EU accession agreement to replace the current national currency, the Romanian leu, with the euro, as soon as Romania fulfills all of the six nominal euro convergence criteria. The leu is not yet part of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, of which minimum two years of stable membership is one of the six nominal convergence criteria to comply with to qualify for euro adoption. The current Romanian government in addition established a self-imposed criteria to reach a certain level of "real convergence", as a steering anchor to decide the appropriate target year for ERM II-membership and euro adoption. As of March 2018, the scheduled date for euro adoption in Romania is 2024, according to Liviu Dragnea, head of the ruling Party of Social Democrats.

Sweden and the euro

Sweden does not currently use the euro as its currency and has no plans to replace the krona in the near future. Sweden's Treaty of Accession of 1994 made it subject to the Treaty of Maastricht, which obliges states to join the eurozone once they meet the necessary conditions. Sweden maintains that joining the ERM II is voluntary, and has chosen to remain outside pending public approval by a referendum, thereby intentionally avoiding the fulfilment of the adoption requirements.

History of the euro

The euro came into existence on 1 January 1999, although it had been a goal of the European Union (EU) and its predecessors since the 1960s. After tough negotiations, particularly due to opposition from the United Kingdom, the Maastricht Treaty entered into force in 1993 with the goal of creating an economic and monetary union by 1999 for all EU states except the UK and Denmark.

Denmark and the euro

Denmark uses the krone as its currency and does not use the euro, having negotiated the right to opt-out from participation under the Maastricht Treaty of 1992. In 2000, the government held a referendum on introducing the euro, which was defeated with 46.8% voting yes and 53.2% voting no. The Danish krone is part of the ERM II mechanism, so its exchange rate is tied to within 2.25% of the euro.

Enlargement of the eurozone

The enlargement of the eurozone is an ongoing process within the European Union (EU). All member states of the European Union, except Denmark and the United Kingdom which negotiated opt-outs from the provisions, are obliged to adopt the euro as their sole currency once they meet the criteria, which include: complying with the debt and deficit criteria outlined by the Stability and Growth Pact, keeping inflation and long-term governmental interest rates below certain reference values, stabilising their currency's exchange rate versus the euro by participating in the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, and ensuring that their national laws comply with the ECB statute, ESCB statute and articles 130+131 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The obligation for EU member states to adopt the euro was first outlined by article 109.1j of the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, which became binding on all new member states by the terms of their treaties of accession.

Kosovo and the euro

Before Kosovo declared its independence in 2008, Kosovo unilaterally adopted the euro as its currency in 2002 when it was a United Nations mandate; although, it is not an official eurozone member.

There are eleven currencies of the European Union as of 2018 used officially by member states. The euro accounts for the majority of the member states with the remainder operating independent monetary policies. Those European Union states that have adopted it are known as the eurozone and share the European Central Bank (ECB). The ECB and the national central banks of all EU countries, including those who operate an independent currency, are part of the European System of Central Banks.

Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union

The Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) is an umbrella term for the group of policies aimed at converging the economies of member states of the European Union at three stages. The policies cover the 19 eurozone states, as well as non-euro European Union states.

European Stability Mechanism organization

The European Stability Mechanism (ESM) is an intergovernmental organization located in Luxembourg City, which operates under public international law for all eurozone Member States having ratified a special ESM intergovernmental treaty. It was established on 27 September 2012 as a permanent firewall for the eurozone, to safeguard and provide instant access to financial assistance programmes for member states of the eurozone in financial difficulty, with a maximum lending capacity of €500 billion.

Croatia and the euro

Croatia's currency, the kuna, has used the euro as its main reference since its creation in 1994, and a long-held policy of the Croatian National Bank has been to keep the kuna's exchange rate with the euro within a relatively stable range.

The banking union in the European Union is the transfer of responsibility for banking policy from the national to the EU level in several countries of the European Union, initiated in 2012 as a response to the Eurozone crisis. The motivation for banking union was the fragility of numerous banks in the Eurozone, and the identification of vicious circle between credit conditions for these banks and the sovereign credit of their respective home countries. In several countries, private debts arising from a property bubble were transferred to sovereign debt as a result of banking system bailouts and government responses to slowing economies post-bubble. Conversely, weakness in sovereign credit resulted in deterioration of the balance sheet position of the banking sector, not least because of high domestic sovereign exposures of the banks.


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