20 years of euro banknotes – 6 interesting facts

It was a special New Year's Eve when the new euro banknotes and coins entered circulation 20 years ago, on 1 January 2002. Everywhere in the euro zone, which at the time comprised twelve member states, 300 million Europeans held a completely new currency in their hands.

On the occasion of the anniversary, six interesting facts about the euro: (source ECB):
 

  1. Name and symbol: The name “euro” was agreed at the 1995 European Council meeting in Madrid. The euro symbol – € – was inspired by the Greek letter epsilon (Є), a reference to the cradle of European civilization. It also stands for the first letter of the word “Europe” in the Latin alphabet, while the two parallel lines running through the symbol signify stability.
  2. 73% cash payments: In 2019 around 73% of all payments in the euro area were made with cash, 24% with cards and 3% with other payment methods.
  3. Banknote design: The design is based on the different architectural styles that have emerged throughout Europe’s history and have marked its culture. On the front, windows and doorways symbolize the European spirit of openness and cooperation. On the back, bridges symbolize communication between the people of Europe and between Europe and the rest of the world.
  4. 340 million Europeans: The euro is shared by over 340 million Europeans in 19 euro area countries. 60 countries and territories outside the euro area, representing 175 million people, have linked their own currencies to the euro either directly or indirectly.
  5. 2nd international currency: The euro is the world’s second currency after the Dollar for international payments, borrowing, lending and central bank reserves. Over half of global green bond issuance is denominated in euro.
  6. 27.4 billion banknotes: In August 2021, there were 27.4 billion euro banknotes in circulation with a value of about EUR 1.5 trillion.

Visit ECB’s official anniversary website at: https://euro-at-20.campaign.europa.eu/index_en