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The euro is the single currency used by 19 countries of the European Union (Eurozone), it was introduced in 1999 and is now used in more than 340 million European citizens.
The transition from the old currency to the euro has had two phases:
- In the first phase, which began on January 1, 1999 and ended on December 31, 2001, the euro has been used as a virtual currency for financial transactions, while cash payments were made with the old national currencies;
- In the second phase, from January 1, 2002, the euro began circulating coins and notes physically and since then is used as a single currency for all methods of payment in countries that have adopted it.
Denmark and the United Kingdom have reached a permanent except the euro, other EU countries will join the euro zone when they satisfy the conditions laid down in the Treaty.
Countries that have adopted the euro since its creation in 1999 are Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Spain, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Finland. They were later joined by Greece in 2001, Slovenia in 2007, Cyprus and Malta in 2008, Slovakia in 2009, Estonia in 2011, Latvia in 2014 and Lithuania in 2015.
According to the Triennial Central Bank Survey of Foreign Exchange and Derivatives Market Activity in April 2013 the most traded currency in the international foreign exchange market the dollar was 87.0% of trade, the euro followed with 33.4%.