Euro, the European currency

We deal with it every day. We spend it and get paid. Exactly, I’m talking about the Euro. The Euro has become an indispensable part of our lives, but what about this small object that has made so many changes possible.

Then there was the Euro

The Euro was introduced because it greatly simplified trade and exchange rates. In the past, if you wanted to buy something in another European country, you first had to exchange your currency for the currency of that country. That wasn’t all, because you also had to look at how the exchange rates were doing. On a small scale this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but look at it on a larger scale. Companies traded with other countries every day. This was very annoying and it more or less forced the companies to do business in their own countries. This is why the European Union wanted to have one currency. That eventually became the Euro.

The countries that use the euro

Country

Member of the EU since

Euro since

Old currency

Belgium

1957

2002

Belgian franc

Cyprus

2004

2008

Cypriot Pound

Germany

1957/1990

2002

German franc

Finland

1995

2002

Finnish markka

France

1957

2002

French mark

Greece

1981

2002

Greek drachma

Ireland

1973

2002

Irish pound

Italy

1957

2002

Italian lira

Luxembourg

1957

2002

Luxembourgish franc

Malta

2004

2008

Maltese lira

The Netherlands

1957

2002

Dutch guilder

Austria

1995

2002

Austrian schilling

Portugal

1986

2002

Portuguese escudo

Spain

1986

2002

Spanish peseta

Slovenia

2004

2007

Slovenian tolar

Slovakia

2004

2009

Slovak crown

The appearance of the Euro

Coins

The euro has eight different currencies. These are: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 cents and the 1 and 2 euros. Each euro country has its own currency. Only one side is the same in every country. That side is also sometimes called the European side, which was designed by the Belgian: Luc Luyx. On that side there is an image of Europe and the value of the coin in figures. The countries can design the other side all by themselves. The Dutch Euro features an image of Queen Beatrix and the text on the edge: God be with us. Bruno Ninaber van Eyben designed the image of King Beatrix.

Notes

The euro has seven different banknotes. These are: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros. Unlike the coins, the notes are all the same. Each banknote has its own size and color. The notes show bridges, gates and windows. You would expect those buildings to be very famous, but they are actually fake. Every country wanted to have their most beautiful bridge, gate or window on a banknote. Only there are only seven notes and too many countries. Then they thought of making non-existent bridges, gates and windows, so that no one had to get jealous. The buildings were designed by the Austrian: Robert Kalin.

The Euro sign

The Euro sign is based on the Greek letter epsilon, but it has an extra dash. It was devised by the European Commission. Only this was not the only design, as there were about thirty other designs. The ultimate winner is the current Euro sign. The Euro sign had to meet the following requirements.

  • It had to be a recognizable symbol for Europe.
  • Easy to draw by hand
  • Attractive

The euro sign was presented by the European Commission on December 12, 1996.

Special coins

Since the Euro came into existence, the Netherlands has minted a few special coins. These special coins are usually made for a special event such as: the 100th anniversary of Vincent van Gogh’s birth, the birth of Princess Amalia, the anniversary of Queen Beatrix’s reign and for sixty years of peace and freedom. You can pay with all these coins in the Netherlands, but not in Europe. Usually you cannot pay with them, because there are often only a limited number available. This often makes the coins more expensive than the purchase price.