The euro connects us all

On 1 January 1999, 11 countries of the European Union (EU) fixed their exchange rates, adopted a shared monetary policy under the European Central Bank and launched the euro as their new common currency. The euro was initially an electronic currency used by financial markets and for cashless payments. Euro banknotes and coins entered into circulation, and found their way into our pockets, three years later.

Today, the euro is the currency of 19 EU countries and over 340 million Europeans. It is one of the most important currencies in the world and we at the European Central Bank are entrusted with safeguarding its value.

Euro banknotes and coins are tangible, everyday reminders of the freedom, convenience and opportunities that the EU brings you.

The euro
brings us together

The Eurosystem cash strategy

As guardians of the euro and issuers of euro banknotes and coins, the ECB and the central banks of euro area countries – also called the Eurosystem – want to ensure that you have sufficient access to cash. Our cash strategy ensures that cash remains widely available and accepted both as a competitive and reliable means of payment and a store of value.

To ensure that you remain free to choose cash as a way to pay, both now and in the future, the Eurosystem pursues five strategic objectives.

Our five strategic objectives for cash

Why is cash important?

Although people are using digital payments more, cash remains indispensable and has an important role to play. It is the only form of money that can be owned and used directly by anyone. Cash allows for autonomy, privacy and social inclusion and is less vulnerable to cybercrime and fraud. And, because it is central bank money, it is protected against default.

Learn more about the role of cash

How do people in the euro area like to pay?

We asked 65,000 euro area citizens to track how they paid for items in a diary for one year. The findings of the study revealed valuable information about which means of payment people prefer to use and how important cash is for them in today’s digital world.

Read the findings

Stronger together

The euro makes our lives easier by making it simpler to work, trade, travel, study and live abroad. We at the ECB work for a future where the euro contributes even more to your well-being.

President Lagarde: what the euro represents

How does the euro help Europeans do business?

Small and medium-sized enterprises form the backbone of the euro area economy. Find out how entrepreneurs and small business owners benefit from the single currency.


Secure and long-lasting banknotes

We invest in research on new technologies to make banknotes more secure and resistant to wear and tear. Between 2013 and 2019, we launched a second series of banknotes, the Europa series, which includes innovative security features.

Explore euro banknotes in 3D

The journey of the euro

The euro has come a long way since the late 1960s, when an economic and monetary union was initially discussed, and today it is one of the world’s most important currencies.

The euro is a tangible symbol of Europe and its values. Our common currency helps to preserve peace and welfare, and to create conditions for prosperity and an economically stable future.

Learn more about the journey the euro has taken to reach you



We have put together a collection of photos and footage from our archive, covering the history of the euro. Feel free to reuse them, but please be sure to attribute them to us.

Archive footage on 20 years of the euro
Photo collection on 20 years of the euro


Have a look at some of the most recent publications on the topic of the euro.