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Since World War II, Europe has been moving toward integration. With the creation of the euro, they have made a giant step toward uniting Europe for good. The euro will have immediate benefits. People traveling or simply shopping among participating European nations will immediately benefit from being able to compare prices for similar goods without needing a calculator. Not only will the exchange rate become irrelevant, but the costs of converting between currencies will also be eliminated. Because of the savings related to currency conversions, one-third of firms expect short-term earnings gains from the introduction of the euro, and three-quarters expect long-term benefits to the bottom line. The euro will make life easier for the people of Europe.
The Maastricht Treaty mentions EMU and refers to it together with the Single Market as one of the means by which the Union will promote economic and social progress that is balanced and sustainable. The treaty refers to the irrevocable fixing of a single currency, the ECU, and a single monetary policy and exchange rate policy.
The first stage began on 1 July 1990 with the removal of exchange controls in 8 of the then 12 Member States, the inclusion in principle of all currencies in the narrow band of the Exchange-Rate Mechanism (ERM), and measures to encourage convergence. No new institutions were required. The second stage began on 1 January 1994, with the newly created European Monetary Institute (EMI), based in Frankfurt, gradually assuming a coordinating role.
Those countries that qualified undertook stage 3 of EMU in early 1999. At the beginning of Stage 3 the participating states adopted the 'irrevocably fixed' rates at which the Euro was to be substituted for national currencies. Stage 3 also entailed the creation of a European System of Central Banks (ESCB), composed of the European Central Bank (ECB) and representatives of the national central banks.
The value of the euro will be determined by economic conditions in the euro area and particularly by maintaining price stability. Countries will only be allowed to join Economic and Monetary Union when their economic conditions have converged toward those in the euro area so that their entry should not impact significantly on the value of the euro. During a three-year transition period, 1999-2002, European companies will convert their accounts to euros. Then, in 2002, euro notes and coins will be circulated in the different countries. There will, of course, be much bickering over the use of national symbols (should the queen's head be conjoined with the body of a bird?), or whether coin sizes will fit into national telephones and vending machines.
In May 1998, bilateral exchange rates between participating currencies were introduced. This was done to help guide the financial markets in the time up to the launch of the euro on January 1, 1999 by indicating that the bilateral rates were the proper economic basis for determining the irrevocable conversion rates between the euro and participating national currencies. The currencies not participating in the euro area from the outset did not have fixed exchange rates, either against the participating currencies or against the euro. Presently, they may participate in a new exchange rate mechanism, which will define central rates against the euro with a standard fluctuation band of up to 15% around that central rate.
With the Jan.1 launch of the euro, the common currency uniting 11 countries, Europe posed the first challenge to the U.S. dollar's dominance of international trade and finance. The euro should not be confused with the European Currency Unit (ECU), which was a just a basket of currencies tied together. The advent of European economic and monetary union, known as EMU, doesn't just change the world's financial landscape; it could also alter the global balance of power. That means stock exchanges will trade in euros and large businesses will keep track of finances in the euro. To ease the transition, bank customers can keep accounts in euros. The size of the new currency bloc -- with 290 million inhabitants -- will provide a stable economic and business environment. The EMU gives birth to a market as big as the United States and backed by a single currency. It represents twenty percent of world economic output and eighteen percent of world trade. The euro could quickly lead to huge capital flows in Europe, making the European firms more competitive in the global marketplace. Businesses will save money; the costs of changing currencies from country to country will be sharply reduced. Comparing prices will be quicker and interest rates will stabilize. All this will make long-term planning easier. The member countries are Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.
There have been questions about the EMU's strength and sustainability. In part, this plan for
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Central Banks, inflation rate, bank statements, GDP,
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European Central Bank, European Union, European Monetary Institute, European Currency Unit, ECU, EMU, ERM, Wall Street Journal, U.S. Federal Reserve System,
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Europe., United States, member countries, Italy, Ireland, Germany, France, Frankfurt, Spain, Finland, United Kingdom, Russia, new enterprises, Asia, Denmark, Tokyo, America, China, Sweden,
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ECB, EMI, Gartner Group, Moody, financial institutions,
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