The euro (€), first introduced in 1999, is the monetary unit of the European Union (EU). At
its inception, the euro was a non-cash monetary unit, used to standardize exchange rate conversions. On
January 1, 2002, currency notes and coins were released to participating countries. On February 28,
2002, the euro became the sole currency of the EU and individual national currencies no longer were
accepted as legal tender.
The EU is an international organization comprising twenty-five European countries, formed to help
stabilize its members' economies and assert Europe as a top world power. The concept of a single
encompassing entity in Europe began in 1951, when six countries, struggling in the aftermath of World
War II, sought to recover as efficiently as possible. Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands,
and West Germany signed the Treaty of Paris, founding the European Coal and Steel Company (ECSC). The ECSC
established a free trade area for key economic and military resources, including coal, coke, steel, scrap,
and iron ore.