As the euro currency celebrates its 20th anniversary, Greece's former Prime Minister Kostas Simitis who oversaw the country's transition from drachma to euro, said that it "was the first step towards the project of a united Europe" and one that protected and benefitted Greece.
"We reached this success following the concerted efforts of our government and and of the entire society. It was a national goal we achieved. It was a victory that protected our country during difficult and adverse conditions. It was a right choice, at the right moment, with national mobilization," Simitis said.
The Greek people have recognized the value of the euro, which has facilitated the economy and its daily life, the former premier said, reminding also that "it was the first step towards the project of a united Europe. A goal that constitutes an overwhelming need in the present, in an era of great geopolitical reshuffling."
In a release on January 1, 2022, the European Commission announced the euro anniversary noting that twenty years ago, on 1 January 2002, twelve EU countries changed their national currency banknotes and coins for the euro in the largest currency changeover in history.
"In these two decades, the euro has contributed to the stability, competitiveness and prosperity of European economies. Most importantly, it has improved the lives of citizens and made it easier to do business across Europe and beyond. With the euro in your pocket, saving, investing, travelling and doing business became much easier.
"The euro is a symbol of EU integration and identity. Today, more than 340 million people use it across 19 EU countries, with 27.6 billion euro banknotes in circulation for a value of about €1.5 trillion. The euro is currently the second most widely used currency in the world behind the US dollar.
“It is now twenty years that we, European people, can carry Europe in our pockets. The euro is not just one of the most powerful currencies in the world. It is, first and foremost, a symbol of European unity. Euro banknotes have bridges on one side and a door on the other – because this is what the euro stands for. The euro is also the currency of the future, and in the coming years it will become a digital currency too. The euro also reflects our values. The world we want to live in. It is the global currency for sustainable investments. We can all be proud of that.” said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.
Meanwhile David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament, said: “The euro is the embodiment of an ambitious political project to promote peace and integration within the European Union. But the euro is also a condition for protecting and relaunching the European economic, social, and political model in the face of the transformations of our time. The euro is a symbol, the coming to fruition of a historic political vision, an ancient vision of a united continent with a single currency for a single market.”