Euro - the official currency of the EU
On 1 January 1999, 00.00 a.m., the euro became the official currency of 11 Member States of the European Union with a fixed conversion rate against their national currencies. From now on, the value of the euro against the dollar and all other currencies, including those of the four Member States staying out of the euro zone, will fluctuate according to market conditions.
Although Euro notes and coins will not appear until 1 January 2002, the new currency can be used by consumers, retailers, companies of all kinds and public administrations from 1 January 1999 in the form of "written money" - that is, by means of cheques, travellers' cheques, bank transfers, credit cards and electronic purses.
The European Commission has had a key role in the formulation of policy regarding the creation and introduction of the euro. The introduction of a single currency has been a longstanding aim of the European Union. The Commission has undertaken, and continues to conduct, extensive consultations with all interested parties to ensure the euro changeover is executed as smoothly as possible.