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Such a changeover, across twelve populous countries, had never been attempted before. In Finland, the Central Bank had opened for an hour at midnight to allow citizens to exchange currency, while a huge euro pyramid had decorated Syntagma Square in Athens. Other countries noted the coming of the euro as well—Paris's Pont Neuf was decorated in EU colours, while in the northern German town of Gifhorn a sombre, symbolic funeral for the Deutsche Mark took place.
Except for Germany, the plan for introduction of the new currency was basically the same. Banks would accept the exchange of legacy currencies, begin to dispense euros from ATMs , and only euros would be available as withdrawals were made, beginning on 1 January. Merchants would accept legacy currency, but give change only in euros.
In Germany, the Deutsche Mark would no longer be a legal tender on 1 January, but would have to be exchanged at the banks. Despite the massive amounts of euros available, chaos was feared. In France, these fears were accentuated by a threatened postal workers' strike. Similarly, workers at the French bank BNP Paribas threatened to disrupt the introduction of euro currency with a strike.
That was also settled. In practice, the roll-out was smooth, with few problems. Some businesses did take advantage of the currency exchange to raise prices. According to a study by the Deutsche Bundesbank , there was a price rise, but consumers refused to buy as much. A coffee bar in Italy that took advantage of the transition to raise coffee prices by a third was ordered to pay compensation to customers.
Nations were allowed to keep legacy currency in circulation as legal tender for two months, until 28 February The official date on which the national currencies ceased to be legal tender varied from member state to member state.
The earliest date was in Germany; the Mark officially ceased to be legal tender after 31 December Most member states, though, permitted their legacy currency to remain in circulation the full two months. The legacy currency was exchangeable at commercial banks in the currency's nation for a further period, generally until 30 June However, even after the official dates, they continued to be accepted for exchange by national central banks for varying periods—and indefinitely in Austria , Germany, Ireland, and Spain.
Coins from those four countries, Italy, and Finland remain exchangeable. The earliest coins to become non-convertible were the Portuguese escudos , which ceased to have monetary value after 31 December , although banknotes remain exchangeable until All banknotes current on 1 January would remain valid until at least In Germany, Deutsche Telekom modified 50, pay phones to take Deutsche Mark coins in , at least on a temporary basis.
In France, receipts still indicate the value of products in the legacy currency along with the euro value, as do receipts in Slovenia.
In other eurozone countries this has long been considered unnecessary. Public support for the euro in each state between to . In , the Lisbon Treaty formalised the Eurogroup , the meeting of euro finance ministers, with an official president. Jean-Claude Juncker served as president before and after formalisation and has been an advocate of strengthening the group, economic co-operation and common representation.
Appetite for stronger economic co-operation grew due to the recession and the potential failure of some weaker eurozone members. Jean-Claude Trichet , who succeeded Duisenberg as ECB president in , fended off numerous attacks from Sarkozy at the start of the recession.
Before that formalisation of the Eurogroup, eurozone leaders held an extraordinary summit in reaction to the financial crisis on 11 October in Paris. Rather than the Eurogroup meeting as finance ministers, they met as head of states or government similar to the European Council to define a joint action plan for the eurozone and the European Central Bank to stabilise the European economy.
These such meetings would be where many euro governance reforms would be agreed. The leaders hammered out a plan to confront the financial crisis which will involve hundreds of billions of euros of new initiatives to head off a feared meltdown. They agreed a bank rescue plan: Coordination against the crisis is considered vital to prevent the actions of one country harming another and exacerbating the bank solvency and credit shortage problems.
Despite initial fears by speculators in early that the stress of such a large recession could lead to the break-up of the eurozone, the euro's position actually strengthened as the year progressed. Far from the poorer performing economies moving further away and becoming a default risk, bond yield spreads between Germany and the weakest economies decreased easing the strain on these economies. Iceland subsequently applied to the EU to get the benefit of using a larger currency with the support of the ECB.
However, with the risk of a default in Greece and other members in late —10 , eurozone leaders agreed to agree provisions for bailing out member states who could not raise funds triggered for Greece in April Yet with Greece struggling to restore its finances, other member states also at risk and the repercussions this would have on the rest of the eurozone economy; a temporary bail out mechanism was agreed and devised in the form of a special purpose vehicle SPV named " European Financial Stability Facility " complemented by the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism and funds form the International Monetary Fund , aiming at preserving financial stability in Europe by providing financial assistance to eurozone states in difficulty.
The crisis also spurred consensus for further economic integration and a range of proposals such as a "European Monetary Fund" or federal treasury. However, in June , broad agreement was finally reached on a controversial proposal for member states to peer review each other's budgets prior to their presentation to national parliaments.
Although showing the entire budget to each other was opposed by Germany, Sweden and the UK, each government would present to their peers and the Commission their estimates for growth, inflation, revenue and expenditure levels six months before they go to national parliaments.
Poland has criticised the idea of withholding regional funding for those who break the deficit limits, as that would only impact the poorer states. The ESM required a treaty amendment to allow it and a separate treaty to establish it but, if ratified successfully, would be established in time to take over when the old facilities expire in Meanwhile, to support Italy and prevent it having to ask for a bail-out later, the ECB controversially started buying Italian bonds, as it had done with Greece.
In March was initiated a new reform of the Stability and Growth Pact aiming at straightening the rules by adopting an automatic procedure for imposing of penalties in case of breaches of either the deficit or the debt rules.
The European Fiscal Union is a proposal for a treaty about fiscal integration described in a decision adopted on 9 December by the European Council. The participants are the eurozone member states and all other EU members without the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic. The treaty entered into force on 1 January for the 16 states which completed ratification prior of this date  and on 1 April entered into force for all 25 signatories.
Despite speculation that the crisis in Greece could spread and that the euro might fail, some newer EU states from the enlargement joined the currency during the recession. Slovenia, Malta and Cyprus all acceded within the first two years of the recession, closely followed by Slovakia in The three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined in , and respectively.
Slovenia was the first country to join the eurozone after the launch of the coins and banknotes. The exchange rate between the euro and tolar had been set on 11 July at Cyprus replaced the Cypriot pound with the euro on 1 January A formal letter of application to join the eurozone was submitted on 13 February The campaign to inform the citizens of Cyprus about the euro officially began in Cypriot media on 9 March On 15 March , the Cypriot House of Representatives passed the necessary laws for the introduction of the euro on 1 January The final decision was taken by the EU finance ministers Ecofin on 10 July and the conversion rate was fixed at 0.
On 1 January the euro replaced the Cypriot pound as the official currency. Malta replaced the Maltese lira with the euro on 1 January On the same day, dual displaying became mandatory and the first Maltese euro coins were struck at Monnaie de Paris.
Maltese citizens could obtain euro information directly from their town or village between December and January People trained specifically on matters related to the changeover to the euro were available to provide council at euro centres along with information materials. In December , as part of the euro changeover celebrations, streets of Valletta were covered with carpets depicting euro coins.
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