A Euro Chronology (1990-2011)
In the 1990s, the euro develops out of the ECU (European Currency Unit). As Europe’s borders become easier to cross, it makes even more sense to have a common European currency. After you have read the timeline (1946-2011) and the preceding pages you’ll be ready to take our Euro Quiz!
TIMELINE: 1946-1989 | 1990-2011
June 19: France, Germany and the Benelux countries sign the Schengen Agreement, abolishing border controls between their countries by 1995 and establishing closer cooperation in the areas of security and asylum. By 1992 Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece add themselves to the agreement.
Feb. 7: The 12 EC countries sign the Maastricht Treaty creating the new European Union (EU). The EU replaces the EC with a stronger political and economic union that goes into effect on Nov. 1, 1993.
Austria, Finland and Sweden join the EU, bringing the total of member countries to 15. The Schengen Agreement goes into effect on March 26, eliminating border controls for most EU countries and creating a new open market within the EU.
December: The old ECU, first introduced in 1979, is renamed the “euro” at a EU summit meeting in Madrid.
April: In an expansion of Schengen, all border controls between Austria, Germany and Italy are abolished. May 3: Eleven EU countries agree on Jan. 1, 1999 as the date for European Monetary Union (EMU) and the introduction of the euro. June 2: The new European Central Bank (ECB) opens for business in Frankfurt am Main.
January 1: The euro and the EMU (European Monetary Union) are born. The euro becomes the legal currency in eleven EU countries (along with national currencies) but will not go into cash circulation until Jan 1, 2002.
The euro celebrates its first birthday on Jan. 1. It is still a cashless currency used for euro zone bank accounts and stock market transactions. May 3: The EU Commission proposes that Greece become the 12th member nation in the EMU.
The euro celebrates its second birthday on Jan. 1.
Sept. 1: Advance distribution of euro notes and coins to banks and businesses begins. Oct. 1: Prices must now be displayed in both euros and the national currency. Dec. 15: Advanced distribution of euro notes and coins to consumers begins. As of Monday December 17 financial institutions can distribute euro coin bags or “Starter Kits” to the general population.
January 1: Euro banknotes and coins go into circulation in the 12-nation euro zone. (See euro country list on the right.) The euro can be used along with the traditional currency until the end of February, but consumers get change back in euros only. The national currency is no longer valid for bank accounts or cashless transactions. Travelers in the euro zone no longer have to exchange money as they move from one country to another. Prices are displayed in euros only.
Stamps/Briefmarken: On January 1, 2002, besides new coins and bills, there were also new euro stamps! Existing postage stamps in every euro country remained valid until June 30, 2002. Although they are marked in cents or euros, German stamps continue to display the country of origin: Deutschland. Questions about German stamps? Visit the Deutsche Post AG Web site. (Also in English). - Deutsche Post - Philatelie
February 28: The former national currencies are no longer legal tender. The euro is the only money that can be used legally throughout the euro zone.
March 1: German commercial banks no longer have to exchange marks for euros, but old notes and coins can be exchanged indefinitely at any branch of the Bundesbank, the German central bank (also in English).
Sept. 14: In a referendum Swedish voters say nej (no) to having their country adopt the euro. This is seen as a setback for adding other countries to “Euroland,” particularly Great Britain.
Jan. 1: The euro celebrates its fifth birthday and Slovenia joins the euro zone as the 13th nation using the currency. As the euro entered its fifth year as a cash currency, it was trading at a rate of about $1.30 USD. However, many Europeans were still not fond of the new money, despite the fact that it was becoming a strong competitor for the dollar. They often have the false impression that the euro has led to higher prices (“der Teuro”), although in fact, adjusted for inflation, prices in euros were not higher. The euro also makes it easier for people to compare prices for specific items among the euro countries.
Jan. 1: On the euro’s sixth birthday it was trading at a rate of about US$1.45. In 2008 two more countries (Cyprus and Malta) join the euro zone.
Jan. 1: On the euro’s seventh birthday Slovakia gives up its koruna to join the euro zone, making a total of 16 nations now using the euro as their official currency.
The Euro Crisis: First Greece, then Ireland must declare they are insolvent and each require a massive financial rescue package from the other euro nations. The euro faces rough waters as it becomes clear that there is no effective mechanism for coordinating the economies of the euro’s member nations — and dealing with countries that incur too much sovereign debt. Belgium, Italy, Portugal and Spain are also causes for concern.
May 2010: The euro countries and the International Monetary Fund agree to a 110 billion euro loan for Greece, plus 440 billion euros in loan guarantees to create the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF). Combined with other loans, the EFSF can provide up to 750 billion euros in rescue funds.
November 2010: Now it is Ireland that needs a bailout, sparking new worries about the future of the euro. But Germany, the strongest economy in the euro zone, expresses support for the common currency, even though it is not happy about having to help bail out its profligate neighbors. Critics say the euro needs a more reliable mechanism to cope with its basic ongoing problems.
Jan. 1: Estonia joins the euro zone, making a total of 17 nations now using the euro as their official currency. As 2011 begins, the euro faces its biggest test since it first began circulation in 2002.
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TIMELINE: 1946-1989 | 1990-2011
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