International status and usage of the euro

The international status and usage of the euro has grown since its launch in 1999. When the euro formally replaced 12 currencies on 1 January 2002, it inherited their use in territories such as Montenegro and replaced minor currencies tied to the pre-euro currencies, such as in Monaco. Four small states have been given a formal right to use the euro, and to mint their own coins, but all other usage has been unofficial outside the eurozone (the EU states who have adopted the euro). With or without an agreement these countries, unlike those in the eurozone, do not participate in the European Central Bank or the Eurogroup.

Its international usage has also grown as a trading currency, acting as an economic or political alternative to using the United States dollar. Its increasing usage in this sense has led to its becoming the only significant challenger to the US dollar as the world's main reserve currency.

International adoption

Sovereign states

State Adopted euro Issuing rights Pop.
 Andorra[1] 1 January 2002 (de facto)[2]
1 April 2012[3]
1 July 2013 82,000
 Monaco[4][5][6][7] 1 January 1999 1 January 2002 32,671
 San Marino[8][9][10][11] 1 January 1999 1 January 2002 29,615
  Vatican City[12][13][14][15] 1 January 1999 1 January 2002 800

Several European microstates outside the EU have adopted the euro as their currency. For EU sanctioning of this adoption, a monetary agreement must be concluded. Prior to the launch of the euro, agreements were reached with Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City by EU member states (Italy in the case of San Marino and Vatican City, and France in the case of Monaco) allowing them to use the euro and mint a limited amount of euro coins (with their own national symbols on the obverse side) to be valid throughout the Eurozone. However, they cannot print banknotes. All of these states had previously had monetary agreements to use yielded eurozone currencies. The Vatican and San Marino had their currencies pegged to the Italian lira (Vatican and Sammarinese lira) and Monaco used the Monegasque franc, which was pegged to the French franc.[3][16] Between 2010 and 2012, new agreements between the EU and Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican City came into force.[3]

A similar agreement was negotiated with Andorra and came into force on 1 April 2012.[3][16] Andorra did not previously have an official currency. Prior to 2002, it used both the French franc and Spanish peseta as de facto legal tender currencies, though they never had an official monetary arrangement with either country, and switched to the euro (without any monetary agreement) when it was introduced on 1 January 2002. After years of negotiations, partially over concerns with banking secrecy,[17] the EU and Andorra signed a monetary agreement on 30 June 2011 which made the euro the official currency in Andorra and allowed them to mint their own euro coins as early as 1 July 2013, provided they comply with the agreement's terms.[18][19] However, the first Andorran euro coins did not enter into circulation until January 2015.[20][21]

Dependent territories outside the EU

Outside the EU, there are currently three French territories and a British territory that have agreements to use the euro as their currency. All other dependent territories of eurozone member states that have opted not to be a part of EU, usually with Overseas Country and Territory (OCT) status, use local currencies which are often pegged to the euro or US dollar. As non-sovereign entities, dependent territories which have adopted the euro are not permitted to mint euro coins like the European microstates, nor do they get a seat in the European Central Bank (ECB) or the Eurogroup.[3] France is responsible for ensuring that the laws governing the EMU apply in their territories which use the euro.[22][23][24][25]

The first OCTs to adopt the euro through a monetary agreement were the French overseas territories of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, located off the coast of Canada, and Mayotte in the Indian Ocean. They both adopted the euro on 1 January 1999 when the currency was first introduced at the electronic level.[23] Mayotte subsequently held a referendum in 2009 in which it decided to become an integral part of France. Its status was changed from an OCT to an OMR, where EU laws apply without separate agreements, on 1 January 2014,[26] which rendered the previous monetary agreement unnecessary.

On 22 February 2007, Saint Barthélemy and Saint Martin were politically separated from the French Outermost region (OMR) Guadeloupe to form two new French overseas collectivities. This caused their status in the EU to briefly be in legal limbo until ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon reaffirmed both territories remained in the EU. The euro continued to be used in both territories throughout this time without incident. When Saint Barthélemy subsequently became an overseas territory of the European Union on 1 January 2012, changing its status to an OCT, the territory had to sign a monetary agreement to continue using the euro.[27]

With the adoption of the euro by Cyprus per 1 January 2008, the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, which had previously used the Cypriot pound, also decided to adopt the euro. The base areas are an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, an EU member state which itself does not use the euro, but these bases are outside of the EU and under military jurisdiction. Their laws and currency have been aligned with those of the Republic of Cyprus, leading to the euro's adoption in the two areas.[28]

Territories outside EU Adopted euro Agreement Pop. Notes
Akrotiri and Dhekelia 1 January 2008 7 August 2007[25] 14,500 UK dependent territory. Replaced the Cypriot pound with the euro along with Cyprus.[25]
Saint Pierre and Miquelon 1 January 1999 31 December 1998[29] 6,125 An OCT of France.
French Southern and Antarctic Lands 1 January 1999 140 An OCT of France.
Saint-Barthélemy 1 January 1999 12 July 2011[27] 8,823 Agreement entered into force on 1 January 2012 when the territory's status changed from an OCT to an OMR.[27]

Unilateral adopters

State/Territory Adopted Seeking Notes Pop.
 Kosovo[lower-alpha 1] 1 January 2002[31] EU Membership[32] Potential candidate 1,700,000
 Montenegro 1 January 2002[33] EU Membership[34] Candidate 684,736

Montenegro and Kosovo[a] have also used the euro since its launch, as they previously used the German mark rather than the Yugoslav dinar. Unlike the states above, they do not have a formal agreement with the EU to use the euro as their currency, and have never minted marks or euros; rather, they depend on bills and coins already in circulation.[35][36]

There were political concerns that Serbia could use the currency to destabilise these territories (Montenegro was then in a union with Serbia) so they received Western help in adopting and using the mark (though there was no restriction on the use of the dinar or any other currency). They switched to the euro when the mark was replaced. In North Kosovo, which is mainly populated by the Serbian minority, the Serbian dinar, which replaced the Yugoslav dinar, continues to be used[37] despite its lack of recognition or use elsewhere in Kosovo.

The use of the euro in Montenegro and Kosovo has helped stabilise their economies, and for this reason the adoption of the euro by small states has been encouraged by former Finance Commissioner Joaquín Almunia. Former European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet has stated the ECB – which does not grant representation to those who unilaterally adopt the euro – neither supports nor deters those wishing to use the currency.

In October 2012, the President of Panama Ricardo Martinelli suggested that he was considering making the euro a third official currency of the country to go along with the US dollar and the Panamanian balboa.[38]

Usage in states with another official currency

In various countries the euro is accepted by some merchants albeit not being official currency there. Additionally sometimes it is used for pricing purposes even if the actual payments are made in the official currency (e.g., for real estate).

EU members outside the Eurozone

The euro is often accepted in shops in countries neighboring the Eurozone, like the borders areas and capitals of Poland, Czechia and Hungary, which are near to Germany, Austria, Slovenia or Slovakia, the border areas of Switzerland, the border of Sweden to Finland and more.

Some tourist-oriented shops in the United Kingdom accept the euro. In Northern Ireland, as a border area, the euro is accepted in many shops.[39] Also, a large number of petrol stations and motorway service areas in European countries outside the eurozone accept euros, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Poland and Serbia allow payment of highway tolls in euros.[35]

The euro is explicitly present in some elements of the laws of these countries, as well as EEA countries, based on EU directives, for example money laundering. The laws can for example mention certain amounts in euro above which certain rules apply.

In some areas of New Caledonia and French Polynesia, both non-EU territories of an EU member state (France), payments in Euro can be accepted, alongside territorial CFP Franc.

Northern Cyprus

The application of EU law and treaties to Northern Cyprus is currently suspended.[40] Its territory is claimed by the Republic of Cyprus, one of the EU member states, but currently northern Cyprus is under Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) control. The TRNC is not recognised by the Republic of Cyprus (which claims jurisdiction over the whole island), by the European Union or by any country other than Turkey. EU law would start to apply in Northern Cyprus if it comes under control of the Republic of Cyprus (if the Cyprus dispute is resolved through unification), whose official legal tender is the euro.

Presently, the TRNC government has declared the Turkish lira to be its legal tender. The euro (along with other major currencies, such as the US dollar and the British pound) can be used to pay for goods and services in many shops related to or situated near tourist hotspots, as well as in some major supermarkets.[41][42] However the exchange rate used by these businesses may not always reflect the true value of the currencies involved.[43][44] The Cypriot euro coins, using both Greek and Turkish languages, have been designed to avoid any bias towards any particular area of the island,[45] in keeping with both Greek and Turkish being the official languages of the Republic of Cyprus.[46] Some in northern Cyprus have called for the unilateral adoption of the euro (similar to other states).[35]


Since April 2009, the Zimbabwean dollar is no longer in active use after it was officially suspended by the government due to hyperinflation. The United States dollar (US$), South African rand (R), Botswanan pula (P), Pound sterling (£), Euro (€), Indian rupees (INR), Australian dollars (A$), Chinese yuan (元/¥), and Japanese yen (¥) are now used instead, along with US-cent denominated Zimbabwean bond coins and bond notes.[47][48]

Trading currency

In 1998, Cuba announced that it would replace the US dollar with the euro as its official currency for the purposes of international trading.[49] On 1 December 2002, North Korea did the same. (Its internal currency, the wŏn, is not convertible and thus cannot be used to purchase foreign goods. The euro also enjoys popularity domestically, especially among elites and resident foreigners.) Syria followed suit in 2006.[50]

In 2000, President of Iraq Saddam Hussein began the sale of his country's oil denominated in euros rather than US dollars since the majority of Iraqi oil trade was with the EU, India and China rather than the United States. Several other oil producing countries stated they would follow suit. But when Iraq was invaded in 2003, the new US administration immediately switched all sales of oil back to the US dollar. Also, since 2007 Iran has asked all petroleum customers to pay in non-US-dollar currency in response to American sanctions. This has resulted in the Iranian oil bourse trading in several currencies, predominantly the euro for European trade and either the yen or euros for sales in Asia.

In 2018, in response to US sanctions, the Venezuelan Minister of Industries and National Production Tareck El Aissami announced that all foreign exchange government auctions will no longer be quoted in US dollars and would use euros, Chinese yuan and other hard currencies instead. El Aissami said the government would open bank accounts in Europe and Asia as potential workarounds to financial sanctions. In addition, Venezuela’s banking sector will now be able to participate in currency auctions three times a week, adding that the government would sell some 2 billion euros amid a rebound in oil prices.[51]

Pegged currencies

Currently there are several currencies pegged to the euro, some with fluctuation bands around a central rate and others with no fluctuations allowed around the central rate. This can be seen as a safety measure, especially for currencies of areas with weak economies. The euro is seen as a stable currency, i.e., there are no dramatic appreciations or depreciations of its value that might suddenly damage the economy or harm trade. Thus it provides security to traders and people holding that currency.

In 2011 the Swiss franc was rapidly appreciating against the euro, harming its exports to the eurozone. In response, Switzerland implemented a cap to the Swiss franc's value. This was not so much a peg, as they were merely limiting its highest value and not its lowest.

State Population Area Code National currency Central rate Pegged since Fluctuation band Formerly pegged to EMU
Bosnia and Herzegovina 3,791,622 51,129 km² BAM B&H convertible mark 1.95583 19991 January 1999 0.00% DEM (from 21 November 1995)
Bulgaria 7,385,367 110,910 km² BGN Bulgarian lev 1.95583 19991 January 1999 0.00% DEM (from 1997)
Comoros 690,948 2,170 km² KMF Comorian franc 491.9678 19991 January 1999 0.00% FRF (from 23 November 1979)
Denmark 5,475,791 43,094 km² DKK Danish krone 7.46038 19991 January 1999 2.25% (de facto 0.5%) XEU ERM2
North Macedonia 2,103,721 25,713 km² MKD Macedonian Denar 1999January 2002 DEM (from October 1995)[52]
Cape Verde 499,796 4,033 km² CVE Cape Verdean escudo 110.265 19991 January 1999 0.00% PTE (from middle of 1998)
(inc. West Sahara)
33,657,259 712,550 km² MAD Moroccan dirham ≈ 10 19991 January 1999
São Tomé e Príncipe 187,356 1,001 km² STN São Tomé and Príncipe dobra 24.5 20101 January 2010 0.00%

XOF currency union;
Burkina Faso
Ivory Coast
70,931,986 3,269,077 km² XOF West African CFA franc 655.957 19991 January 1999 0.00% FRF (from 17 October 1948)

XAF currency union;
Central African Republic
Republic of the Congo
Equatorial Guinea
38,750,133 2,757,528 km² XAF Central African CFA franc 655.957 19991 January 1999 0.00% FRF (from 17 October 1948)

XPF currency union;
French Polynesia
New Caledonia
Wallis and Futuna
520,938 19,597 km² XPF CFP franc 119.3317 19991 January 1999 0.00% FRF (from 21 October 1949)

The Bulgarian lev is pegged to the euro through a currency board. As part of ERM II, the currencies have a fluctuation band of ±15%. Denmark, however, has committed to a tighter fluctuation band of 2.25%.[53]

Convertible mark is the currency of Bosnia and Herzegovina and it was fixed to 1 German mark when it was introduced on the basis of the Dayton agreement; consequently after introduction of the euro, the Convertible mark uses the German-mark-to-euro rate at 1.95583 BAM per euro.

Since 2005, stamps issued by the Sovereign Military Order of Malta have been denominated in euros, although the Order's official currency remains the Maltese scudo.[54] The Maltese scudo itself is pegged to the euro and is only recognised as legal tender within the Order.

Reserve currency status

The euro is a major global reserve currency, sharing that status with the US dollar (USD), which continues to be the primary reserve of most commercial and central banks.[55]

Since its introduction, the euro has been the second most widely held international reserve currency after the US dollar. The euro inherited this status from the German mark, and since its introduction, it has increased its standing, mostly at the expense of the dollar. The increase of 4.4% in 2002 is due to the introduction of euro banknotes and coins in January 2002.

The possibility of the euro's becoming the first international reserve currency is now widely debated among economists.[56] Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan gave his opinion in September 2007 that the euro could indeed replace the US dollar as the world's primary reserve currency. He said it is "absolutely conceivable that the euro will replace the dollar as reserve currency, or will be traded as an equally important reserve currency."[57] In the second term of 2007, euro as a reserve currency had reached a record level of 25.6% (a +0.8% increase from the year before) – at the expense of the US dollar, which dropped to 64.8% (a drop of 1.3% from the year before).[58] By the end of 2007, shares of euro increased to 26.4% as the dollar slumped to its lowest level since records began in 1999, 63.8%.[59]

The exact situation varies from country to country; for example, those with dollar pegs have greater dollar reserves and those with euro pegs have greater euro reserves.[60] In 2009, Russia's foreign reserves in euro exceed dollar reserves for the first time; Russia held 47.5% (up from 42% in 2008) in euro and 41.5% (down from 47%) in dollar leading the Central Bank of Russia to announce the euro had become the reserve currency of Russia.[61] The usage of the euro is particularly strong in eastern Europe, not surprisingly in those that have joined the EU, with 54.8% of all loans in Bulgaria, and 85.2% in Latvia before Eurozone accession, being issued in euro rather than the local currencies.[62] The following table shows central banks allocated reserves in euros and US dollar. The percental composition of currencies of official foreign exchange reserves from 1995 to 2018.[63][64][65]


A currency is attractive for international transactions when it demonstrates stability, a well-developed financial market to trade the currency, and acceptability to others. While the euro has made substantial progress, a few challenges undermine the ascension of the euro as a major reserve currency. Persistent excessive budget deficits of some member nations, economically weak new members, conservatism of financial markets, and inertia or path dependence are important factors keeping the euro as a junior international currency to the US dollar. However, at the same time, the USD has increasingly suffered from a double deficit and has its own concerns.

As the euro becomes a new reserve currency, Eurozone governments will enjoy substantial benefits. Since money is an interest-free loan to the issuing government by the holder of the currency, foreign reserves act as a subsidy to the country minting the currency (see seigniorage). However, reserve status also holds risks, as the currency may become overvalued, hurting European exporters and potentially exposing the European economy to influence by external factors who hold large quantities of euros.

See also


  1. Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the 2013 Brussels Agreement. Kosovo is currently recognized as an independent state by 98 out of the 193 United Nations member states. In total, 112 UN member states recognized Kosovo at some point, of which 14 later withdrew their recognition.


  1. "Monetary Agreement between the European Union and the Principality of Andorra". Official Journal of the European Union. 17 December 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
  2. Between 1 January 2002, when the euro was launched, and 1 April 2012, when their Monetary Agreement with the EU came into force, Andorra did not have an official currency but used the euro as their de facto currency.
  3. "The euro outside the euro area". Europa (web portal). Retrieved 26 February 2011.
  4. "Council Decision of 31 December 1998 on the position to be taken by the Community regarding an agreement concerning the monetary relations with the Principality of Monaco". Official Journal of the European Communities. 4 February 1999. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
  5. "Monetary Convention between the Government of the French Republic, on behalf of the European Community, and the Government of His Most Serene Highness the Prince of Monaco". General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  6. "Monetary agreement between the Government of the French Republic, on behalf of the European Community, and the Government of his Serene Highness the Prince of Monaco". Official Journal of the European Union. 31 May 2002. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
  7. "Commission Decision of 28 November 2011 on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union of the Monetary Agreement between the European Union and the Principality of Monaco". Official Journal of the European Union. 28 January 2012. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
  8. "Council Decision of 31 December 1998 on the position to be taken by the Community regarding an agreement concerning the monetary relations with the Republic of San Marino". Official Journal of the European Communities. 4 February 1999. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
  9. "Monetary Convention between the Italian Republic, on behalf of the European Community, and the Republic of San Marino". General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  10. "Monetary agreement between Italian, on behalf of the European Community, and the Republic of San Marino". Official Journal of the European Union. 27 July 2001. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
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  64. For 1999–2005: International Relations Committee Task Force on Accumulation of Foreign Reserves (February 2006), The Accumulation of Foreign Reserves (PDF), Occasional Paper Series, Nr. 43, Frankfurt am Main: European Central Bank, ISSN 1607-1484ISSN 1725-6534 (online).
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