Banknotes and coins shared in Europe celebrate their 20th anniversary on New Year’s Eve

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) – European Central Bank celebrates 20th anniversary of euro banknotes and coins as member countries fight the impact of the pandemic on the economy and the European Union forges a new level of cooperation financial support to help stimulate recovery.

The event is marked at midnight on New Years Eve with an illuminated display in blue and yellow, the colors of the EU, projected onto its skyscraper headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany.

The introduction of banknotes and coins to 12 countries on January 1, 2002 was a massive logistics undertaking that followed the introduction of the euro for accounting and electronic payments purposes three years earlier on January 1, 1999. Today Today, the euro is used in 19 of the 27 EU countries.

The introduction of cash saw the new euro banknotes and coins quickly replace German marks, French francs and Italian lire in ATMs, cash registers, wallets and purses. Shop customers who paid in old currencies received change in euros at fixed exchange rates. It swept the old currencies out of circulation as people spent their remaining national money.

ECB President Christine Lagarde said in a video message that “the euros have become a beacon of stability and solidity in the world, thanks to you, the hundreds of millions of Europeans who trust it, have given it strength , trust and deal with him every day. “

The bank plans to redesign the banknotes, with a final decision on the new look expected in 2024. The original designs with generic windows, doors and bridges from different eras that do not represent any specific place or monument have undergone an update. relatively minor update since introduction.

The euro has had its ups and downs since its launch as a major European integration project. The monetary union has faced speculation that it will break down during a protracted public and bank debt crisis in 2011-2015. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi helped end the market turmoil with his July 26, 2012 pledge to “do whatever it takes” to preserve the euro, followed by the offer of the ECB to buy the public debt of countries facing excessive borrowing costs.

Under the current leadership of Christine Lagarde, the central bank has rolled out a € 1.85 trillion ($ 2.1 trillion) bond purchase program aimed at reducing borrowing costs for companies so that ‘they can get through the worst of the pandemic.

In response to the pandemic, the governments of the European Union have taken a further step towards economic and financial integration by agreeing to borrow money together for the EU’s Next Generation Stimulus Fund of 807 billion euros. ‘euros. The fund aims to support the post-pandemic recovery by financing projects that help the economy reduce carbon dioxide emissions to fight climate change, and that support the growing use of digital technology.

Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, who heads the panel of finance ministers of Eurogroup member countries, said the currency “has strengthened its foundations over the past 20 years. It has proven itself to face great challenges and great crises.

Mary I. Bruner