The European Union is an international organisation made up of 28 European countries of which 19 sole countries use the Euro currency. The population of the European Union is estimated at 508 million.
It governs common economic, social and security policies of its member states.
The objectives of the EU are to establish European citizenship, ensure freedom, justice and security, promote economic and social progress, and assert Europe's role in the world.
Membership is open to any country with a democratic government, a good human rights record, and sound economic policies.
The member states delegate sovereignty to the EU institutions to represent the interests of the European Union as a whole.
The euro came into existence on 1 January 1999, although it had been a goal of the European Union (EU) and its predecessors since the 1960s. After tough negotiations, particularly due to opposition from the United Kingdom, the Maastricht Treaty entered into force in 1993 with the goal of creating an economic and monetary union by 1999 for all EU states except the UK and Denmark (even though Denmark has a fixed exchange rate policy with the euro).
In 1999 the currency was born virtually and in 2002 notes and coins began to circulate. It rapidly took over from the former national currencies and slowly expanded behind the rest of the EU. In 2009 the Lisbon Treaty finalised its political authority, the Eurogroup, alongside the European Central Bank.
According to European Central Bank estimates, in August 2016, there were about 19.417 billion banknotes in circulation around the Eurozone, with a total value of about €1.1 trillion. On 8 November 2012, the European Central Bank announced that the first series of notes would be replaced by the Europa series, starting with the 5 euro note on 2 May 2013.