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The euro (€) is the official unit of currency of the European Economic Area (EU). At the time of writing (2016), 19 of the 28 member states of the European member states use the euro as their official currency. Countries remaining outside the Eurozone, and continuing to use their own currencies include the United Kingdom (pound sterling), Sweden (krona), Denmark (krone) and Poland (zloty).
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The term “euro” was adopted as the official name for the new currency of the EU in 1995. The year 1999 dawned with a new major currency introduced to the world’s trading markets, as the Euro officially replaced the ECU (European Currency Unit). The ECU had been used as a sort of interim “shadow” currency, intended to enable the different national currencies to become stabilised and harmonised prior to the forthcoming introduction of the single currency. This was intended to be achieved by the countries’ separate currencies being linked to the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). This attempted to minimize fluctuations between member state currencies and the ECU. The introduction of the euro was the final step in this process, and all the old national currencies, such as the French franc and the German mark were no longer traded internationally. The old traditional national notes and coins continued to be used however, because physical euro coins and banknotes did not enter circulation until 2002, at which point the euro became the daily operating currency of the EU.

The euro is now one of the world’s major currencies, with around 600 million people across the world now making everyday transactions using the currency, or other equivalents which are pegged to the value of the euro. The euro is now the world’s second largest reserve currency as well as the second most traded currency, trailing only the United States dollar.

The prospect of British entry into the Eurozone has been a hot political topic ever since talk of the introduction of a unitary currency was first suggested. Margaret Thatcher’s government did originally link the pound to the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). However, the falling value of the pound meant that the government was unable to maintain the currency’s value within the limits imposed by ERM membership. This economic crisis caused John Major’s government to take the decision to withdraw the pound from the ERM on “Black Wednesday”, 16th September 1992.

Gordon Brown, as the incoming Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer, tried to take the political heat out of the situation by introducing his “five economic tests” – supposedly impartial measurements which would decide whether the British economy was suitable synchronised with the Eurozone to enable entry. By 2007, entry had been ruled out for the foreseeable future, and it now seems virtually impossible to conceive of circumstances where the UK would want to join. This is particularly so since the economic crisis of 2008, which saw the Eurozone incur a mountain of debt caused by the international banking crash.

Indeed, political controversy over the euro in the United Kingdom was not limited to just the monetary unit. The argument surrounding the United Kingdom’s membership of the EU at all has continued to rage ever since the decision to join in 1973. There was a referendum as to whether to remain as early as 1975, and the debate has never really gone away. So much so that another referendum is due to be held in 2016.

But rest assured, whatever the result of this ballot, you will still be able to use your euros to pay for your online bingo. Online bingo sites have many European followers, and the euro is more than welcome as a method of payment at most of the UK licenced and registered sites.