The Euro is the single currency of the European Union. It was first introduced in cashless form on Jauary 1st1999, following years of negotiation and preparation. Euro notes and coins will officially come into circulation on 1st January 2002 in the twelve participating countries.
These countries are Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy, France, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Austria and Finland; Greece became the twelfth member when it joined the Euro on January 1st 2001.
Any country that is a member of the European Union can join the Euro providing that they are able to pass economic tests set out by the Maastricht treaty. The treaty requires economies to have achieved certain levels of performance on areas such as inflation, public deficits and debts, exchange rates and interest rates. These targets ensure not only stable economic conditions but also a degree of convergence between the participating member states which allows the European moneta...