European Currency Unit

Infobox Currency
iso_code = XEU
using_countries = European Community
and later the European Union
pegged_with = The ECU was a basket of currencies
symbol = ₠ (rare), ECU or XEU
plural = "usually" ECUs
used_coins = Gibraltar issued commemorative Ecu coins. [ [http://www.gibraltarlaws.gov.gi/articles/1993s024C.pdf Gibraltar coins] ] there were also mock-ups. In 1989 the Dutch government issued a series of Ecu coins from ₠2½ to ₠200, which could be spent in shops in The Hague ('s-Gravenhage), during the European Capital of Culture festival.
used_banknotes = None, although there were mock-ups
issuing_authority = N/A
obsolete_notice = 31 December 2001
The European Currency Unit (; ECU) (the word ECU, pronounced either IPA|/eky/, IPA|/ɛkʊ/, or IPA|/əː'siː'uː) was a basket of the currencies of the European Community member states, used as the unit of account of the European Community before being replaced by the euro. The European Exchange Rate Mechanism attempted to minimize fluctuations between member state currencies and the ECU. The ECU was also used in some international financial transactions.

The ECU was conceived on 13 March 1979 as an internal accounting unit. It had the ISO 4217 currency code XEU.

On 1 January 1999, the euro (with the code EUR) replaced the ECU, at the value EUR 1 = XEU 1. Unlike the ECU, the euro is a real currency, although not all member states participate (for details on Euro membership see Eurozone). Two of the countries in the ECU basket of currencies, UK and Denmark, did not join the eurozone, and a third, Greece, joined late. On the other hand, Finland and Austria joined the Eurozone from the beginning although their currencies were not part of the ECU basket (since they had joined the EU in 1995, two years after the ECU composition was "frozen").

Due to the ECU being used in some international financial transactions, there was a concern that foreign courts might not recognize the euro as the legal successor to the ECU. This was unlikely to be a problem, since it is a generally accepted principle of private international law that states determine their currencies, and that therefore states would accept the European Union legislation to that effect. However, for abundant caution, several foreign jurisdictions adopted legislation to ensure a smooth transition. Of particular importance here were the USA states of Illinois and New York, under whose laws a large proportion of international financial contracts are made. Both these states passed legislation to ensure that the euro was recognized as successor to the ECU.

Although the acronym ECU is formed from English words, at the same time the word "écu" was a reference to an ancient French coin of the same name. That was one (perhaps the main) reason that a new name was devised for its successor currency, "euro", which was felt not to favour any single language.

The currency's symbol, ₠ (U+20A0), comprises an interlaced C and E, which are the initial letters of the phrase 'European Community' in many European languages. However, this symbol was not widely used: few systems at the time could render it and in any case banks preferred (as with all currencies) to use the ISO code XEU.

See also

* Asian Currency Unit
* World Currency Unit
* Eco

External links

* [http://www.ecb.int/ecb/history/emu/html/index.en.html Infomation from the European Central Bank on Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), which the ECU is the first stage]

References


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