On January 1, 1999, a single European currency (the euro) was introduced in 11 EU countries. The 11 countries of the euro zone are:Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. These countries locked the exchange rates of their national currencies to the euro and are sharing the new currency. However, euro notes and coins will not be available until January 1, 2002. Until then, the old national currency notes and coins will continue to circulate. But in law they are part of the euro.
March 1998--The European Commission says 11 countries are ready for Emu. Greece and Sweden are considered not to have achieved the required degree of sustainable economic convergence; Denmark and the UK have exercised right under Maastricht not to join Emu in 1999.
May 1-3 1998--Heads of state in Brussels and formally draw up the Emu founder members - Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Finland, Austria and the Netherlands. Only France objects to the candidacy of Dutch central banker Wim Duisenberg for the ECB presidency.
June 2 1998--The first European Central Bank council meeting takes place, consisting of its six executive board members and the 11 central bank governors of the states participating in the euro.
December 3 1998--Central banks in the prospective euro--zone states, apart from Italy, cut short-term interest rates to 3 per cent following a fall in consumer confidence.
December 24 1998--Italy comes into line with the other ten euro-zone states after its central bank cuts interest rates to 3 per cent from 3.5 per cent.
December 31 1998--The irrevocable exchange rates between the euro and the currencies of the 11 countries participating in Emu are published in Brussels.
January 1 1999--The euro is launched.
Key Concepts and Names