The transition to the euro continued for the next three years. Greece joined the Euro Zone in 2001, after finally meeting economic criteria. In August 2001 the European Central Bank revealed what the euro bills would look like. The next month, the first euro bills and coins were given to banks and some retailers to allow them to prepare. In December, some coins were distributed to people in so-called starter kits.
It was two decades before the movement toward a common currency accelerated. In 1979, the European Monetary System took effect. It created a currency unit called the ecu to stabilize exchange rates and keep inflation in check. Coincidentally, this was the name of an archaic French coin.
In January 2007, Slovenia was the first of the newer Member States to adopt the euro, followed by Malta and Cyprus in January 2008, Slovakia in 2009 and Estonia in 2011.
The countries that decided to adopt the euro spent the following years preparing their economies – these preparations are known as 'economic convergence'.
The development of the Euro originates from the preamble of The Treaty of Rome. In 1957, the Treaty aimed to achieve "an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe" by creating a unified European common market with economic prosperity.
The Euro is currently the official currency in 13 countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain. Together they form the Eurozone, which is also known as 'euroland' or the 'euro group'.
The introduction of the Euro has led to a whole host of countries using the same currency, which makes it much simpler for you when you are traveling throughout Europe. The Euro coin is made up of 100 cents, although depending on which country you are visiting you might notice regional variations in how it is written.
The Euro is commonly represented by its currency code (EUR) and in its symbol form (€). You will need to have Euros on hand if you are traveling to one of the many countries in Europe which use the Euro as legal tender.
Creating a currency which could be used across such disparate economies was always a difficult task. The idea for a single currency was promoted by Jacques Delors, a former French minister of finance, who held the European Commission presidency from 1985 to 1995.
The euro, which created the world's largest trading power, was designed to link together the European nations for trade and political purposes. It was born amid political and economic upheaval as Germany headed towards reunification -- with the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 -- and communism disintegrated in Eastern Europe.