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EMU / euro FAQ

This page is maintained by Patrick O'Beirne of sysmod.com, author of the book+CD "Managing the Euro in Information Systems: Strategies for success", available from Amazon. (The revision history of this document is at the bottom)

Patrick O'Beirne also provides consulting services in spreadsheet model design, review, audit, and testing.

For Questions and Answers on euro conversion rules and their impact on business and IT systems, see the IT Euro FAQ page. Click here for the euro information index page with a list of recommended books on the euro.

EU-12 map from Central Audiovisual Library, European Commission

Click the image for a larger map with flags

Index to euro-related pages in this web site

 EMU Index - the general euro index page with a list of recommended books on the Euro
 Euro Calculator to convert euro to and from other currencies Convert euros, dollars, pounds, and more
 Euro FAQ - answers questions on the technological challenges of euro transition
 Euro Software links : symbol, converters, calculators
 Euro and EMU : This page -  answers  on EMU, economics, and the euro and web rings
 National information Euro Links
largely historical but including UK

 General Euro Web links
non-country-specific web sites and the European Commission
 Patrick O'Beirne's Articles on EMU, the euro, I.T. and Information Systems
 Euro Info: europapers, magazines, and other documents Glossary Euro-papers, Publications
 Euro Workshop: our course outline and speaking engagements on the euro
 BASDA Accreditation for euro conversion and our Euro Certification Testing services

 

 Frequently Asked Questions on the euro and EMU

What is "EMU" and what is the "euro"?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of EMU?

What countries are in and out and what are their currency codes?

What do the notes and coins look like?

What is the style guide for the plural of the euro?

How do I write the euro symbol: before or after the figures?

What are the fixed euro conversion rates?

Where can I find the current exchange rates from the euro to other currencies?

Where can I read about the history of EMU?

Archives of closed euro sites may be found at:
http://europa.eu.int/comm/mediatheque/multimedia/archive/index.htm  "Since it was decided to launch a single currency in Europe, numerous Internet sites dealing with the euro have been set up by individuals, institutions, companies, etc. In order to keep this Internet memory of the euro alive, the Directorate General Economic and Financial Affairs of the European Commission has decided to store all these documents –whether merely informative, in favour of or against the euro currency - in an electronic archival resource, Euro-Archives, which aims to make all points of view on the euro accessible to the widest possible audience."



For more information on the euro, see the QUEST database on the European Commission web server. Here is a brief extract of Q&A to give an example of what is available:

What is "EMU"?

Officially, it is "Economic and Monetary Union", the long-term project for the unification of Europe which began with the Maastricht Treaty of 1992. A major milestone in that is the creation of the "euro", the new single currency for Europe, on 1 January 1999, from the fixing of conversion rates of eleven national currencies. "EMU" is also used more loosely to mean "European Monetary Union". For more information, contact your national euro information body or see the EU site europa.eu.int/euro/ 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of EMU?

The pros and cons of EMU were summarised in a post (7-Sep-2000) to the euro2002 discussion list by Jay Levin of Wayne State University, reproduced here with his permission. It deals with the economic aspects of whether the UK should join EMU.

What are the benefits and costs to a country of joining a monetary union? With respect to the ECONOMIC benefits and costs, the best way to examine this question is with a framework developed by Robert Mundell, an economist at Columbia University, who devised the concept of an "Optimum Currency Area".

This idea helped Mundell win the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1999, along with $950,000, and I think it's worth paying attention to. Without going into all of the details, I'll simply list the economic benefits and costs for any country contemplating joining the euro-zone.

Benefits:

1. Elimination of foreign exchange transactions costs with other euro-zone countries.

2. Elimination of exchange rate uncertainty of the country's currency against the euro, which should improve the quality of information on which consumers and firms base their decisions.

3. Greater price transparency when all goods are priced in euros may lead to increased competition in the Single Market.

4. Participation in integrated market-based European financial markets as the result of the elimination of currency risk. Leads to more efficient European finance.

5. If the ECB keeps inflation in check, the country would be joining a low inflation area, which contributes to economic efficiency and credibility of the central bank. (Since inflation is not currently a problem in the UK, this would not be a current benefit in this case. Also, the Bank of England follows an inflation targeting policy anyway.)

Costs:

1. The country can no longer conduct monetary policy on its own behalf.

2. The country may have to substantially limit its use of expansionary fiscal policy under the Stability and Growth Pact.

3. The exchange rate is no longer available to cushion "asymmetric shocks." For example, a decline in the demand for the country's exports, which is specific to the country, would lead to an automatic depreciation of the currency if the exchange rate is floating. This would cushion the effect on the economy. On the other hand, if the country is part of the euro-zone, there is no longer a British pound, for example, to depreciate against other currencies, so the cushioning mechanism would be lost. Whether the economic benefits exceed the costs depend on four factors:

1. The amount of trade integration with the other countries in the euro-zone.

2. The amount of labor mobility with the other countries in the euro-zone.

3. The amount of "asymmetric shocks" that hit the country.

4. The flexibility of wages within the country.

The bottom line is that it is impossible to compute the economic benefits and costs of joining a monetary union with any degree of precision based on the current state of knowledge. So from a strictly economic point of view, I don't believe anyone can legitimately say whether or not the UK should adopt the euro.

That leaves open the question of whether the UK would reap any net POLITICAL gains from adopting the euro. Since I am not a political scientist, I can answer this question even less sensibly. However, some highly respected economists have made some interesting remarks about the politics of EMU, and I would think these might provide some insight into the question, "Should the UK adopt the euro?". I will take the liberty of quoting a few:

1. "Politically, monetary unification has been seen as a practical and symbolic step toward the development of a capacity to formulate social and foreign policies at the European level." (Eichengreen & Frieden)

2. "Political leaders in Europe see EMU as a way to further the political agenda of a federalist European political union, which will have a common foreign and military policy and a much more centralized determination of what are currently nationally determined economic and social policies." (Feldstein)

3. "European economic integration has always been a politically motivated enterprise...If EMU succeeds on its economics, the political vision that gave birth to the project will be well served." (Obstfeld)

4. "The euro is foremost a political project that is deeply entangled in European history." (Chabot)

5. "If EMU succeeds, it will promote European political as well as economic integration, fostering peace and prosperity in a region that could some day include Eastern Europe. If EMU fails, however, its driving force, the goal of European political unification, will be set back." (Krugman & Obstfeld)

6. "EMU should be understood as a bargain between Germany and France, where France wants monetary integration to recapture some control over the continent's monetary policy [which it gave up to Germany under EMS], while Germany wants political integration in order to acquire a foreign policy role in the context of an EU foreign policy." (Eichengreen)

Take your pick. If you're a political conservative, you will probably side with Feldstein and view adopting the euro with alarm. I suppose that others might feel that the UK would be left behind politically and lose its voice in European affairs if it doesn't adopt the euro. Perhaps others can lend additional insight into this crucial question.

Jay H. Levin Department of Economics Wayne State University Detroit, MI 48202 U.S.A. 


What is the "euro"?

The euro is the name of the new currency. It is not called the "euro-dollar". (A eurodollar is a US dollar held in Europe, see the glossary). The rules for its spelling, plural forms, pronunciation, gender, position of the symbol before or after the amount, use of the comma or the point for the decimal separator, and all similar usage issues, follow the rules of the language and the usages of currency notation of the country in which it is used. Like many other EU rules, it is a matter for "subsidiarity" - such things are decided at the national level.

How is the euro sign written?

(euro plurals: euros,  euroa, eurorna, euroene, cent/centime/, eurocentime,  centimo, Sentti, centesimo, eurocent, cêntimos, centen, eurocenten, centene)

European Commission English Translation Service Style Guide:
http://europa.eu.int/comm/translation/writing/style_guides/english/frame_index_en.htm (Frame version)

Paragraph 12.12 states:

The euro. Like 'pound', 'dollar' or any other currency name, the word 'euro' is normally written in lower case with no initial capital.

Guidelines on the use of the euro, issued via the Secretariat-General, state that the plurals of both 'euro' and 'cent' are to be written without 's' in English. Do this when amending or referring to legal texts that themselves observe this rule. Elsewhere, and especially in documents intended for the general public, use the natural plural with 's' for both terms.

In tables and documents where monetary amounts figure largely, make maximum use of the abbreviation EUR (before the amount) or the € symbol (closed up to the figure).

Para 12.10: "The currency abbreviation precedes the amount and takes a space: FRF 2 400; EUR 3 500; EUR 2 billion When used, currency symbols are closed up: $100; £78; €120"

evertype.com Michael Everson's campaign for "euros" rather than "euro".

news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/special%5Freport/single%5Fcurrency/newsid%5F86000/86518.stm 
BBC NewsOnLine Special Report May 1, 1998 - It's a boy! The euro gets a gender

See the glossary for definitions of some euro-related terminology.

From the Commission translation service:
DA overgang til den fælles valuta
DE Umstellung auf den Euro
EN changeover to the single currency
ES transición a la moneda única
FI yhteiseen rahaan siirtyminen
FR passage à la monnaie unique
FR basculement vers la monnaie unique
FR passage à l'euro
IT passaggio alla moneta unica
NL overgang naar één munteenheid
PT transição para a moeda única
SV övergång till den gemensamma valutan

Conversion rates

The European Commission page on which the conversion rates were published on 31 December 1998 is : europa.eu.int/eurobirth

Tipos de conversión del euro / Omregningskurser for euroen / Euro umrechnungskurse / Euro conversion rates / Taux de conversion de l’euro / Tassi di conversione dell’euro / Euro omrekeningskoersen / Taxas de conversão do euro / Euron muuntokurssit / Konverteringskurser för euron. See the table below.

What countries are in and out and what are their currency codes?

A mnemonic to help remember the currencies participating in EMU is "BAFFLING PIGS": Belgium, Austria, France, Finland, Luxembourg, Ireland, Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain. The mnemonic "DUKS" refers to Denmark, the UK (United Kingdom), and Sweden who are also referred to, perhaps optimistically, as the "Pre-Ins".

Here is the currency symbol table for currencies around Europe, including some non-EU states. Figures in bold are the fixed euro conversion rates (Greece joined 1.1.2001). Other rates are for approximate information only, current as of December 2001. (As of Dec 2001 I EUR = USD 0.89 )

European Union (EU) countries in the eurozone
Country Currency Symbol Rate TLD
Austria Austrian Schillings ATS  13.7603 .at
Belgium  Belgian Francs BEF 40.3399 .be
Netherlands  Dutch Guilders NLG 2.20371 .nl
Finland Finnish Markka FIM  5.94573 .fi
France French Francs (also Monaco) FRF  6.55957 .fr
Germany German Marks DEM  1.95583 .de
Greece Greek Drachmas GRD  340.750  .gr
Ireland Irish Pound (Púnt) IEP  0.787564 .ie
Italy Italian Lira (also Vatican, San Marino) ITL  1936.27 .it
Luxembourg  Luxembourg Francs LUF  40.3399 .lu
Portugal Portugese Escudo PTE  200.482 .pt
Spain Spanish Pesetas (also Andorra) ESP  166.386  .es
EU countries not in the Eurozone
Sweden Swedish Krona SEK  9.3 .se
United Kingdom British Pounds (Pound Sterling, £) GBP  0.62 .uk
Denmark Danish Kroner DKK  7.44 .dk

European Economic Area (EEA) / EFTA Countries not in the EU

Switzerland Swiss Francs CHF  1.48 .ch
Iceland Icelandic Krona ISK  96 .is
Norway Norwegian Kroner NOK  7.98 .no
Liechtenstein (monetary union with Switzerland) CHF 1.48 .li

For a complete list of world currencies, see the "Currencies of the World" site at: http://pacific.commerce.ubc.ca/xr/currency_table.html by Prof. Werner Antweiler, Univ. of British Columbia / Faculty of Commerce.

For more on the microstates of San Marino, Vatican City, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Andorra, see:
http://www.library.pitt.edu/subject_guides/westeuropean/wwwes/microstates.nhp.html  
WWW Virtual Library: West European Studies.


euro coin and notes image Central Audiovisual Library, European Commission What do the notes and coins look like?

www.euro.ecb.int/en/section.html
European Central Bank information in English

Pictures of euro banknotes (bills) : 
www.euro.ecb.int/en/section/testnotes.html 

Pictures of euro coins : 
www.euro.ecb.int/en/section/euro0.html

Coin Collectors and Swap sites 

A picture of the 15 designs - the first twelve eurozone countries plus San Marino, the Vatican, and Monaco can be downloaded as a 566K PDF file (source: Thomas Widmann)

www.euroswapper.com Euro Swapper provides numismatists (coin collectors) with a facility to sign up for the euro coins they have and want to swap for.
http://euro.webmind.nl/ A similar site in Holland.

www.attilacoins.com/coins/errori.asp  Attila Coins provides a list of "euro errors" - variations and mistakes in the minting of euro coins, plus a swap list to exchange coins with other collectors.

http://directory.google.com/Top/Recreation/Collecting/Coins/Collectors A list of collectors and traders.

DIFFUSION OF COINS THROUGH THE EURO AREA

http://matematicas.montes.upm.es/eurodif.html
A group of professors of mathematics at Polytechnic University of Madrid interested in all kinds of diffusive phenomena (epidemics, migrations, popular rumors, etc) have a net of collaborators in the twelve countries that have adopted the Euro. When any foreign coin arrives to their hands, they are asked to submit the date, city and coin denomination through a web-based survey form. Juan C. Nuño Universidad Politécnica Telephone: 34913367107. April 2003 Workshop abstracts: http://matematicas.montes.upm.es/eurodif/absinv1.html

http://www.wiskgenoot.nl/eurodiffusie/engindex.html Euro coin diffusion study in the Netherlands by the "eurometers"

 


Foreign Exchange rates

Online euro - dollar conversion rate services. (convertisseurs, echange devise, euro umrechnung, cambio valuta, valutakurser, valutakurspariteter, Wechselkurse, paridades de cambio, valuuttakurssi,  parités de change, parità monetarie, wisselkoersen, paridades cambiais,  växelkurser)

http://www.sysmod.com/eurocalc/eurocalc.php Our online currency exchange calculator updated daily by the European Central Bank euro foreign exchange reference rates.

http://www.ecb.int/stats/eurofxref/  European Central Bank: euro foreign exchange reference rates. All currencies quoted against the euro (base currency). The reference rates are based on the regular daily concertation procedure between central banks within and outside the European System of Central Banks, which normally takes place at 2.15 p.m. ECB time.Historical series of a subset of the reference rates are published in the Monthly Bulletin (monthly, quarterly and annual averages; daily observations are available for download in CSV format, see the section euro area statistics - download). Historical series are also available online through the Web sites of several national central banks.

pacific.commerce.ubc.ca/xr/ The Pacific Exchange Rate service enables you to plot charts of any two currencies over any time period

fxtop.com has a convenient one-page multi-currency converter with daily official refreshed exchange rates from the European Central Bank. Covers the euroland countries and United States, Australia,  Canada, Switzerland, Japan, Great Britain, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Hong Kong, Taiwan. Also available in multiple languages.

www.xe.net/gen/about.htm  Xenon's Currency Services

xe.com  Universal Currency Converter™
Convert this amount
of this type of currency
into this type of currency.

enter any amount

scroll down to see more currencies

scroll down to see more currencies
Universal Currency Converter service and trade mark under license from xe.com. Terms of Use

www.oanda.com/site/cc_index.shtml OANDA Currency Converter:

English: currency converter
Francais: convertisseur de monnaies
Deutsch: Wechselkurse für Währungen

www.x-rates.com/ Foreign currencies and currency Exchange Rates history graphs

www.ft.com/ The Financial Times of London publishes international exchange rates every day.


History of the euro

This is a list of web sites. Also see the publications and bibliography page.

http://europa.eu.int/abc/history/index_en.htm A chronology from 1946 to 2001 
The History of the European Union, based on the General Report on the Activities of the European Union, presents the chronology of the important accomplishments of the EU and its institutions. From Robert Schuman's declaration of 1950 to the first enlargement waves in the 70's and the 80's, from the establishment of the Single Market in 1993 to the launching of the euro on January 1st, 1999 and the opening of enlargement negotiations with the countries of Eastern and Central Europe. 

http://europa.eu.int/en/record/mt/top.html  The text of the Treaty on European Union ( Maastricht Treaty)
www.euro.ecb.int/en/what/history.html European Central Bank very brief history of the euro

www.ucis.pitt.edu/cwes/index.html EUROPEAN UNION: History and a general bibliography from the Centre for West European Studies of Pittsburgh University 

www.let.leidenuniv.nl/history/rtg/res1/index.htm History of European Integration From Leiden University, Department of History, including bibliographies, oral histories, statistic sources, timelines, and other resources on European integration past and present. In English. 


Revision history of this page

2002-08-12 Euroswapper.com, Attila coins, coin diffusion studies.
2001-11-29: designs of all 15 coins.
2000-08-08 Symbol placement
2000-03-31 OANDA and Xenon currency exchange calculators added.
2000-03-07 History added.

2009-09-21 Attila coins link updated

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