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The euro (€) turns 20!

The common European currency, the euro, soon turns 20 and to celebrate the anniversary the House of European History hosts a selection of 15 objects donated by the European Central Bank.

The objects, dating back to the 2001-2002 period, include a 20-euro banknote signed by Wim Duisenberg the first President of the European Central Bank, and are exhibited in a showcase at the museum’s first floor.

The biggest cash changeover in history, the introduction of the euro banknotes and coins in the daily lives of millions of citizens in 12 European Union Member States, took place on Jan. 1, 2002. This monumental event did not just happen overnight. The European Currency System was launched in 1979 and about a decade later a three-stage preparatory period was introduced. After another decade of preparations, the euro was launched on Jan. 1, 1999, and the first three years it was only used for accounting purposes and electronic payments - it was an “invisible” currency.

The European Council chose the currency’s name half way through the preparatory period, in 1995, during a meeting in Madrid. The symbol € is based on the Greek letter epsilon (Є), the first letter in the word “Europe,” while the two parallel lines signify stability.

Today, the euro is the currency of 19 EU countries and over 340 million Europeans. Notes share the same designs across all euro area countries. Coins have a common design on one side, and a country-specific design on the other.

See the showcase yourself, during a free visit to the House of European History -it's located in the Fables Room of the museum.

Selection of euro notes and coins
full euro showcase