The European Central Bank (ECB) opened the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the introduction of euro cash with a light show at its headquarters. The building in Frankfurt was lit up at midnight on January 1, and will be illuminated every night until January 9, 2022.
Information about the euro will be displayed in 15 European languages until January 9 from 5:30 pm until 11:30 pm CET.
"Clearly, Europe and the euro have become inseparable. And for young Europeans, who have only ever known the single currency, it must be almost impossible to imagine Europe without it," ECB chief Christine Lagarde wrote in a blog post.
Two decades of the euro
The euro is the world's second-most widely used currency, after the US dollar. It accounts for 20% of global foreign exchange reserves compared to 60% for the US greenback.
Its various red, blue, and orange notes feature illustrations of generic Gothic, Romanesque and Renaissance architecture typical of the continent. In December, the ECB announced a redesign of the notes , which is likely to be rolled out in 2024.
The euro first become legal electronic tender in 1999, for 11 of the then 15 member states.
"It is fair to say that the euro has had an eventful first two decades," members of the eurogroup of finance ministers said in a joint article.
The euro had faced a debt crisis that began in Greece and spread to other nations. Apart from Greece, bailouts were given to Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus. Austerity measures were imposed on these economies in return.
During the economic crisis created by the pandemic, nations rolled out huge stimulus programs. The ECB deployed a huge bond-buying scheme to keep borrowing costs low and drive economic growth.
"It's proven its mettle in dealing with great challenges and great crises," said Irish Finance Minister and head of the Eurogroup Paschal Donohoe.
tg/rc (dpa, AFP)