Introduction to the euro area

Information

The euro area (also known as the eurozone) consists of those European Union (EU) countries which have adopted the euro as their currency. It currently has 19 member states including Ireland. All EU member states have committed to joining the euro, except for Denmark and the United Kingdom.

You can find more information on the adoption of the euro on the European Commission's website.

Eurogroup

The Eurogroup is the main forum for the management of the single currency area. It is an informal body that brings together the finance ministers of the member states whose currency is the euro. The Vice-President responsible for Economic and Monetary Affairs in the EU Commission and the President of the European Central Bank also participate in Eurogroup meetings.

The Eurogroup’s role is to ensure close coordination of economic policies within the euro area. It usually meets once a month, on the eve of the meeting of the Council of the European Union (Economic and Financial Affairs - ECOFIN).

Euro Summits

Euro Summits brings together the heads of state or government of EU member states whose currency is the euro, the President of the Euro Summit and the President of the European Commission. Euro area leaders elect the President of the Euro Summit by simple majority, at the same time as the European Council elects its President. The mandate for both roles is two and a half years.

The Fiscal Stability Treaty requires a minimum of 2 Euro Summit meetings a year. The Euro Summit meetings provide strategic direction on the economic and fiscal policies in the euro area. Discussions on the specific responsibilities linked to euro area membership assist the member states in taking into account the euro area dimension in their national policy-making.

European Central Bank

The European Central Bank (ECB) is the central bank for the euro and is responsible for conducting monetary policy for the euro area. Its main task is to maintain the euro's purchasing power, thus ensuring price stability in the euro area.

The ECB is part of the European System of Central Banks, which also includes the national central banks of all EU member states, whether they have adopted the euro or not. The Eurosystem, on the other hand, comprises the ECB and only the national central banks of those countries that have adopted the euro. The Eurosystem and the European System of Central Banks will co-exist as long as there are EU member states outside the euro area.

Page edited: 18 May 2015