Introduction 

The euro is the official currency of the eurozone countries, i.e. 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union, amounting to more than 300 million Europeans. The Economic and Monetary Union irrevocably fixed the exchange rates of the participating currencies in 1999.  On 1 January 2002, the euro was introduced and the withdrawal of national banknotes and coins, including the Irish punt, from circulation began.

The physical appearance of euro banknotes is identical throughout the euro area. However, while all euro coins have a common “European" side, they also have a ‘national’ side. The common side has the same design in all the euro-area member states. The Irish national side depicts the harp. All euro coins are legal tender throughout the eurozone, irrespective of which national side the coins have.