20:20 vision: a euro in time
17 Jan 2019
Two decades after its launch the euro has proved a qualified success, adding new members and weathering storms. What events have shaped the euro to the currency it is today?
The euro's midwife: Jacques Delors
The Delores Report proposed a three-stage preparatory period for economic and monetary union and the euro area spanning the period 1990 to 1999. Preparations involved:
- Completing the internal market (1990-1994) through the introduction of the free movement of capital
- Preparing for the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European System of Central Banks (ESCB).
- Achieving economic convergence (1994-1999).
- Fixing exchange rates and launching the euro (1999 onwards).
Euros in practice
- Since the introduction of euro notes and coins in 2002, 19 EU countries have joined the euro area.
- 340 million Europeans use the euro every day – it is the second most-used currency worldwide.
- In 2016, the euro was the second most-traded currency by value, involved in 31.4% of trades (compared to the dollar at 87.6%, the yen at 21.6% and sterling at 12.8%)
Interest rates: a new stability
- A Bundesbank study last year found that eurozone countries saved almost €1 trillion between 2008 and 2016 in interest rate payments because borrowing costs were so much lower than pre-crisis averages. That is a saving of some 9% of GDP.
- With the euro protecting the Single Market, trade growth has increased, with intra-EU exports rising from 13% of EU GDP in 1992 to 20% today.
Eurozone Economy: a mixed bag
- Eurozone GDP grew 1.6% year-on-year (based on Q3 2018 figures). Growth averaged 1.7% in the region from 1995 until 2018, peaking at 5% in the first quarter of 1995 – before the euro launched. Its low point was in 2009, at minus-5.5%.
- Within the eurozone, economic performance varies hugely. Annualised GDP growth rates from 2012 to 2017 are topped by Ireland (7.93%), Malta (6.15%) and Estonia (3.23%) with Greece (-1.48%), Italy (-0.3%) and Cyrus (0.17%) at the bottom of the growth chart.
- Since September 2017 the market value of euro area listed shares has hovered around €8 trillion.
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