Ordering a pair of shoes from a German store; taking cash out of an ATM in Porto; buying apples in a market in Riga; booking a hotel room in Zakynthos — the euro makes these things easy.
Some 340 million people in 19 countries have been using the euro for 20 years now, but here are 9 things you may not know about the EU’s official currency.
1. The second most important currency in the world
Since 2002, the euro has become the second most important currency in the world. Across all international currency indicators (global payments, foreign exchange reserves, international loans, international debt, and foreign exchange turnovers), it has grown to become the second most used currency after the US dollar.
2. 27.9 billion banknotes
In January 2022, there were 27.9 billion euro banknotes in circulation (2002: 7.8 billion). There are 141 billion euro coins in circulation in the euro area (2002: 38 billion). Of these, there are 38 billion 1 cent coins in wallets (and down the sides of sofas) across the EU.
3. What’s the most used banknote?
Perhaps you already guessed this one. The €50 note is used the most, with 13.6 billion banknotes in circulation.
4. The euro is very popular
Over the course of 20 years, support for the euro among citizens of the euro area has remained consistently high.
You probably noticed that the coins don’t look all the same! Euro coins have indeed a common side and a national side. In our Pinterest board you will find real‑life examples of the designs depicted on the national side of our coins.
5. €2 coins commemorate 388 historic moments
What do Asterix, the discovery of Antarctica and Parc Güell all have in common? The EU has paid tribute to all 3 and 385 other historic moments, anniversaries, personalities and places by issuing commemorative euro coins. Countries can issue 2 commemorative €2 coins a year. Greece was the first to do so for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Celebrating 20 years of the Euro
Somewhat quirky, somewhat fun, and oh-so-90s!
6. Euro helps fight climate change
Both the EU and the euro lead the world in green bond issuances. These are issued to fund projects that have a positive environmental or climate impact. In 2020, 49% of global green bonds were issued in euro, while 51% were issued by the EU.
Source: Climate Bonds Initiative
7. Euro coins beyond the EU
Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican all use the euro and have their own euro coins.
8. Renaissance and the euro
The front of euro banknotes with windows and doorways symbolise the European spirit of openness and cooperation. The back of them contain bridges, which symbolise communication between the people of Europe and between Europe and the rest of the world.
Beyond this, the banknotes feature illustrations that reflect typical European architecture:
- €5: Classical
- €10: Romanesque
- €20: Gothic
- €50: Renaissance
- €100: Baroque and Rococo
- €200: 19th century iron & glass architecture
9. A digital euro?
The Commission and the European Central Bank are currently investigating the possibility of a digital euro. As a complement to cash, a digital form of central bank money would offer greater choice to consumers and businesses. Given its potential as an innovative and safe means of payment, it could support the EU’s digital transition by providing new financial services and also increase the international role of the euro.
The euro is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. For more information on the Commission’s EUROat20 campaign ⮕ europa.eu/euroat20