The euro: The second most traded currency in the world

The 19 countries that use the euro must work together to maintain growth and stability.

The euro (EUR, €) is a common currency shared by 19 European Union (EU) member states. Introduced in 1999, over 337.5 million EU citizens now use the euro, and it’s the second most traded currency in the world. Not all EU member states use the euro as their official currency, with the United Kingdom and Denmark opting out.

Compare money transfer services to send money to Europe

I want to send


Enter your details to speak to a foreign exchange expert

By submitting this form, you agree to privacy policy
Ofx Logo

Save money on your personal or business international money transfer today. Fill in the form and you’ll be contacted by a foreign exchange expert to have an obligation-free discussion about your options.

With over 17 years of foreign exchange expertise and over $100 billion transferred, OFX can help with all your currency exchange needs, including:

  • Buying property abroad
  • Emigrating
  • Regular overseas payments
  • Risk management
  • Forecasting

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Services Amount Received Description CTA Details
WorldRemit International Money Transfers
USD 1 Within an hour USD 2.99 0.865 Online, Bank Account to Bank Account, Cash Transfer EUR 4,324 Use promo code FREE to send your first transfer for no fee, to over 110 countries for bank-to-bank deposit, cash pickup or mobile top-up. Go to site View details
World First Foreign Exchange
USD 1,000 1 day USD 0.00 0.866 Online EUR 4,328 Exclusive offer: $0 transfer fee
No-limit transfers with competitive exchange rates for more than 100 currencies.
Go to site View details
TransferWise International Money Transfers
USD 1 1 day USD 50.00 0.878 Online EUR
Enjoy high maximum transfers into more than 20 currencies while saving up to 90% over local banks. Go to site View details
OFX International Money Transfers
USD 150 1 day USD 0.00 0.875 Online, Bank Account to Bank Account EUR 4,373 Send safe, no-limit transfers with no fees and competitive exchange rates. Go to site View details
HiFX International Money Transfers
USD 100 2 days USD 5.00 0.874 Online EUR 4,367 Transfer money into 20 currencies and schedule regular payments. $5 fee waived for transfers over $5,000. Go to site View details
Do you send money often? Track this rate with tailored alerts direct to your inbox

Compare up to 4 providers

Member’s of the EU that have adopted the euro include Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain. There are four other European nations that use the euro, as do overseas territories of EU members.

The European Central Bank (ECB), along with euro nation central banks, hold responsibility for eurozone’s monetary policy making the Eurosystem. Individual national authorities have control over structural and fiscal policies, but they need to work together to maintain stability and growth of the euro. The Stability and Growth pact contains rules regarding fiscal discipline, and is important to the economic success.

Value and exchange rates of the euro

When the euro was first introduced, conversions between currencies of participating countries to the euro relied on a triangulation process. The value of the euro in terms of exchange rates of the currencies entering the euro is pictured below.

Currency CodeRate
Austrian schillingATS13.7603
Belgian francBEF40.3399
Cypriot poundCYP0.585274
Estonian kroonEEK15.6466
German markDEM1.95583
Finnish markkaFIM5.94573
French francFRF6.55957
Greek drachmaGRD340.75
Irish poundIEP0.787564
Italian liraITL1,936.27
Lithuanian litasLTL3.4528
Luxembourgish francLUF40.3399
Latvian latsLVL0.702804
Monégasque francMCF6.55957
Maltese liraMTL0.4293
Dutch guilderNLG2.20371
Portuguese escudoPTE200.482
Slovenian tolarSIT239.64
Slovak korunaSKK30.126
Spanish pesetaESP166.386
Sammarinese liraSML1,936.27
Vatican liraVAL1,936.27

The Council of the European Union relied on recommendations from the European Commission to arrive at these rates. These were set so one euro would equal one European Currency Unit (ECU). The ECU was not a currency, but an accounting unit that the EU used based on currencies of participating states.

The euro, since its introduction, has become the second most held international reserve currency, which is mainly built on the Deutsche Mark’s status of being in the same spot. The share of its currency reserve stood at 18% in 1999, and increased to 27% by 2008. During the same period, the US dollar’s share fell 7%, and the Japanese yen’s share dropped by 3.1%.

The International Monetary Fund views the euro as an overweight reserve currency in developing and emerging economies, and as underweight in advanced economies.

Over 20 countries and territories outside the eurozone peg their currencies against the euro, which include 15 African nations, three French Pacific territories, as well as Bosnia, Herzegovina, Bulgaria and Macedonia. By 2013, more than 180 million people in Africa, 27 million outside the eurozone in Europe, and around 545,000 in the Pacific islands used currencies pegged to the euro.

The ECB works in targeting interest rates as opposed to exchange rates, and doesn’t interfere in forex markets. After the implementation of the Single European Act, the EU worked in freeing capital markets. Since the ECB opted for control of its money, the euro follows a floating exchange rate system.

Since the ECB maintained noticeably low interest rates and succeeded in restricting the supply of money for around a decade, the euro went on to become more expensive when compared to the region’s main trading partners. Though this changed in 2010 when value of the euro began to drop. In 2008, the euro valued at USD1.60, and dropped to USD1.04 by 2015.

The value of the euro when traded against other major currencies has seen significant changes since its introduction. It got to its lowest point in 2000, and its highest point came in 2008. While the global financial crisis saw the euro dropping in value, it gained ground later. By November 2011, the euro traded almost as high as it was at before the financial crisis began in 2007.

The table below takes you through the value of the euro against other major currencies since its introduction in 1999.

US dollar1.06610.92341.24631.32731.1097
Pound sterling0.65890.60940.68450.68450.7261
Canadian dollar1.58461.37051.50951.36761.4189
Chinese renminbi yuan8.82527.645310.2108.98546.9727
Indian rupee45.88641.44754.69360.57871.149

These are yearly averages.

History of the euro

Provisions in the 1992 Maastricht Treaty led to the creation of the euro. As part of the the treaty, the United Kingdom and Denmark were exempt. Prominent economists Neil Dowling, Fred Arditti, Robert Mundell, Wim Duisenberg, Robert Tollison and Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa all worked together to create the euro.

While the name ‘euro’ came into effect as early as December 1995, introduction of the currency happened only on January 1, 1999. At this point, the use of the euro limited to non-physical forms like electronic transfers and traveller’s checks. Euro notes and coins saw light of day in January 2002. People could exchange their coins and notes from older currencies until the end of February 2002. National central banks continued to accept old currencies even after they stopped serving as legal tender, and while some national banks stopped doing this after a while, some still continue.

Back to top

Compare the euro exchange rates

EUR exchange rates
Best CAD > EUR exchange ratesBest EUR > GBP exchange rates
Best EUR > INR exchange ratesBest USD > EUR exchange rates
Best GBP > EUR exchange ratesBest AUD > EUR exchange rates
Back to top

Coins and banknotes of the euro

The euro is made up of 100 cents, often called to as “euro cents”. The coins come in denominations of €2, €1, 50c, 20c, 10c, 5c, 2c and 1c. Banknotes come in denominations of €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500.

All coins show their denomination, along with a map in the background. The other side is the national side, which shows images that are chosen by the countries that issue the coins.

2 Euro1 Euro50 Cent Euro

Every banknote is a different color, and relates to an artistic period from Europe’s architectural past. The fronts of these notes have gateways or windows, and the back display bridges to represent the link to the various European countries that use the euro.

100 Euro200 Euro500 Euro
Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

Ask a Question

You are about to post a question on

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Disclaimer: At we provide factual information and general advice. Before you make any decision about a product read the Product Disclosure Statement and consider your own circumstances to decide whether it is appropriate for you.
Rates and fees mentioned in comments are correct at the time of publication.
By submitting this question you agree to the privacy policy.

US International Money Transfers Offers

Learn about our information service
HiFX International Money Transfers

Transfer money into 20 currencies and schedule regular payments. $5 fee waived for transfers over $5,000.

WorldRemit International Money Transfers

Use promo code FREE to send your first transfer for no fee, to over 110 countries for bank-to-bank deposit, cash pickup or mobile top-up.

World First Foreign Exchange

Exclusive offer: $0 transfer fee
No-limit transfers with competitive exchange rates for more than 100 currencies.

TransferWise International Money Transfers

Enjoy high maximum transfers into more than 20 currencies while saving up to 90% over local banks.