Today, around 340 million citizens in 19 countries live in the euro area, and this number will increase as future enlargements of the euro area continue to spread the benefits of the single currency more widely in the European Union.
All European Union Member States are part of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and coordinate their economic policy-making to support the economic aims of the EU. However, a number of Member States have taken a step further by replacing their national currencies with the single currency – the euro. These Member States form the euro area.
When the euro was first introduced in 1999 – as 'book' money –, the euro area was made up of 11 of the then 15 EU Member States. Greece joined in 2001, just one year before the cash changeover, followed by Slovenia in 2007, Cyprus and Malta in 2008, Slovakia in 2009, Estonia in 2011, Latvia in 2014 and Lithuania in 2015. Today, the euro area numbers 19 EU Member States.