1st of January - Eurozone joined Latvia!
  • What is the euro?

The euro is the single currency of the European Union. It is now implemented in 17 EU countries, which, for the sake of brevity, we call the euro area, but whose legally accurate name is the Economic and Monetary Union.

Guidance for more information: www.ecb.europa.eu

  • What is the right name of the single European currency in Latvian “eiro” or “euro”?

The European single currency is officially called the euro. But in everyday communication, we can (and mostly do) use "eiro".

According to Item 4 of Article 3 of the Treaty on European Union, the Union is to establish an economic and monetary union whose currency is the euro. According to the Council Regulation No. 974/98 "On the Introduction of the Euro" of 3 May 1998 and the introduction of the euro currency policy, the name of the currency is euro. This, however, does not prevent Latvian speakers to use "eiro" in their everyday communication. In legislation, euro (in italics) must be used.

  • How was the EU's single currency name invented and what is its graphic symbol?

EU's single currency`s name symbolizes Europe. The graphic symbol for the euro is €.

The name "euro" for the EU single currency was approved in December 1995 in Madrid, when the decision was adopted to introduce, as of 1 January 1999,  the single currency as a non-cash payment instrument  for payments in 11 EU countries.

The single euro currency graphic symbol € is designed using the Greek letter "epsilon" and it symbolically refers to the first letter of the word "Europe". The two horizontal stripes represent the stability of the euro.

Euro graphic marking colours are blue and yellow.

The official abbreviation for the euro (currency code) is EUR.

Guidance for more information: The name and symbol of the euro

  • When was the single currency created?

The non-cash form of the single currency was introduced on 1 January 1999. Three years later, on 1 January 2002, the euro was put into circulation in its cash form in the euro area, gradually replacing the national currencies.

  • In which countries is the euro circulated?

At present, the euro is legal tender in 17 countries:   Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain.

Guidance for more information: www.ecb.europa.eu

  • When will the euro be introduced in the EU countries, which have not yet done so?

This decision depends on meeting the economic criteria of each individual country.

  • Is the euro a stable currency?

The euro is as stable a currency as the other global currencies: the U.S. Dollar, the Japanese yen and the British Pound. The value of euro, expressed in other currencies is constantly changing depending on the demand and supply of the euro and the currency at hand.

  • What determines the rate of the euro against other currencies?

The value of the euro, expressed in other currencies is constantly changing depending on the demand and supply of the euro and the currency at hand.

The euro is one of the major world currencies because it represents a very significant part of the global economy, - the Economic and Monetary Union of 17 countries whose number will increase in the future.

The exchange rate against other currencies is determined by economic development and economic potential, the difference of interest rates of currencies, as well as demand and supply from investors. For example, any piece of good news about euro area economic growth or raising the euro interest rate can lead to a greater demand for the euro and to its exchange rate increase.

  • Is the euro a reliable currency?

The euro is a reliable currency. It is the second largest currency in the world - 40% of global trade transactions are conducted in euro and 25% of foreign exchange reserves in the world are held in this currency.

More and more companies and people in the world and also in Latvia use euro. Half of Latvian residents and companies` deposits are in euro and, in the period of economic instability, people rushed to change their lats to the euro.

The population of Latvia and companies trust the euro - almost half of the money is deposited in euro, more than 80% loans are in euro and 60% of the external payments for goods and services are also made in euro.

  • What denominations of euro banknotes are in circulation?

There are seven euro banknote denominations: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euro. So the only difference between the euro and the lats is that the euro has a 200 denomination banknote.

Guidance for more information: http://www.ecb.europa.eu

  • Are the euro banknotes the same in all euro area countries?

Euro banknotes have a common design in all euro area countries.

On the front or obverse of the banknote are featured various architectural elements: -doors and windows symbolizing freedom and openness. On the back or reverse of the banknotes are featured bridges, symbolizing human cooperation. On the banknotes are shown the map of Europe and the European flag. Each denomination banknote is of a different colour and size.

As of 2013, the euro area began the introduction of the second - European - series i of euro banknotes. The new notes will be the same in all countries, but the design will differ slightly from the first series.

Guidance for more information: http://www.ecb.europa.eu

  • Who is the designer of the euro banknotes?

The euro banknotes were designed by Austrian artist Robert Kalina. His offer was selected based on the results of a competition and community survey.

Kalina in his drawings chose the theme "Ages and the Styles. They represent seven European cultural history periods of architectural styles: Ancient for the 5 euro banknote Romanesque for the 10 euro banknote, Gothic for the 20 euro banknote, Renaissance for the 50 euro banknote, Baroque and Rococo for the 100 euro banknote, 19th century`s steel and glass architecture for the 200 euro banknote and modern 20th century architecture for the 500 euro banknote.

Windows and doors are the main features of the obverse and bridges -of the reverse of the banknotes. The images are created based on the typical architectural styles of the period, instead of representing

concrete buildings.

The second (European) series of euro banknotes have improved security features as well as a slightly modified design. They have been gradually introduced as of 2 May 2013. On the new euro banknotes will still appear the styles and motifs used in the first series, also the same dominant colours are used, but because of the new security features they will look a little different.

Renewal of the second series of euro banknotes was entrusted to the German artist Reinhold Gerstetter.

  • What changes are expected in connection with the release in circulation of the second series of euro banknotes?

As of 2013, the euro area started introducing the second - Europa - series of euro banknotes. They have several improved security features that are easy to see.

The design of the euro banknotes is continually being improved, including the incorporation of advanced security features.

The new - Europa - series of banknotes will be phased into circulation over several years. On 2 May 2013, the new 5 euro banknote was put into circulation.

For some time, the first series of five euro banknotes will be circulated along with the new 5 euro notes in order to use the remaining stocks. The date s of which the first series of banknotes will no longer be legal tender, will be announced well in advance. However, the first series of banknotes always will retain their value and it will be possible to exchange them in euro area`s national central banks for an unlimited time.

  • What denominations of euro coins are in circulation?

There are eight different denomination coins of the euro and euro cent in circulation: 1 and 2 euro and 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents. So they are nominally the same as the lats and santims coins.

Guidance for more information: http://www.ecb.europa.eu

  • Are the euro coins in all euro area countries the same?

The euro coins have a common side and a national side. The national side indicates the issuing country.

For the national side, each euro area country mints its own symbols. The common side of the euro and euro cent coins features one of three types of outline of the EU surrounded by the 12 stars symbolizing the EU.

  • Who is the designer of the euro coins?

The common side of the euro coins is designed by Belgian artist Luc Luycx.

  • Are euro coins issued in countries that are not in euro area?

Yes, in the Vatican, Monaco and San Marino.

  • Are euro more often counterfeited than lats?

The euro banknotes are well protected against counterfeiting and the amount of counterfeit money against money in circulation is negligible.

Dissemination of counterfeited money in the euro area is more likely because of the size of its territory and vast population. In addition it is more profitable for criminals to invest more resources (underground printers etc.) for euro counterfeiting.

The design of the euro banknotes is constantly being improved including the incorporation of advanced security features. As of 2013, the release of a second – Europa – series of banknotes has been started the second. They have several improved security features (watermark, hologram, embossed printing, a security thread, etc.) that are easy to spot.

  • How are euro banknotes protected against counterfeiting?

A number of security features have been incorporated in the banknotes, making their counterfeiting  difficult, such as a watermark, microprint, metallic strip, metallic mark, intaglio technology, the optically variable colour and others.

  • Are there specific measures to help the blind and visually impaired people to distinguish among the different euro banknotes?

One of the beliefs underlying the development of the euro banknotes was that "a good design for the blind and visually impaired people is a good design for all". So the euro banknotes are simple to use.

Each of the seven notes has a slightly different size. Therefore, it is easier for blind and the visually impaired people to distinguish among them. In addition, some design elements are embossed using special printing technology (intaglio).

Visually impaired people can easily distinguish banknotes because:

  • each banknote has a dominant colour (eg, 20 euro banknote is blue);
  • to distinguish each of the denomination of  banknotes,  bright contrasting colours are used (e.g., red for the 10 euro banknote, blue for  the 20 euro banknote);

Each banknote’s value is printed in large, bold numerals.