|The Eurozone, European Union, and other countries using the euro. |
Map by Evan Centanni, from blank map by Ssolbergj. License: CC BY-SA
Article by Caleb Centanni, with additional content by Evan Centanni
What is the Eurozone?Officially called the "euro area", the Eurozone is a nickname for the group of countries in Europe that share a single currency, called the euro. The euro currency is administered by the European Union (EU), but many countries in the EU don't use the euro, and some countries outside the EU do use it. The European Central Bank, the governing financial body of the Eurozone, is headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany. Germany, along with eleven other EU countries, became a founding member of the Eurozone in 1999.
Since then, eight more members have joined after meeting the five necessary economic criteria. This has brought the total to nineteen Eurozone members, including all but eight of the 27 European Union member countries.
Nine distant territories of Eurozone member countries - those that are considered part of the EU - are also part of the Eurozone. These territories (not pictured on the map) are the Portuguese islands of the Azores and Madeira; Spain's Canary Islands; French Guiana in South America; the French island territories of Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Saint Martin in the Caribbean; and the French island territories of Mayotte and Réunion in the Indian Ocean.
All other overseas territories of EU member countries are considered to be outside the EU. These non-EU territories are generally not part of the Eurozone either, but there are some exceptions (see below).
Which EU Countries Don't Use the Euro?
|The full European Union (EU) and prospective members|
Denmark is allowed to opt out of adopting the euro, despite its ERM II membership, but Bulgaria and Croatia are expected to enter the Eurozone in 2023 or 2024.
Learn More: Croatia and Bulgaria's Entry into the ERM II
All members of the European Union were required by the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 to change to the euro after meeting the criteria. However, both Denmark and the UK negotiated exemptions from the requirement later in that year (the UK later ended up leaving the EU altogether).
Five other EU members - Sweden, Poland, Czechia, Hungary, and Romania - are still required to adopt the euro at some point in the future, but haven't yet entered the ERM II.
Which Non-EU Countries and Territories Do Use the Euro?There are four tiny countries outside the EU - Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City - that have monetary agreements allowing them to use the euro as their official currency. Meanwhile, two other non-EU-members, Montenegro and the disputed Republic of Kosovo, have unilaterally adopted the euro without coming to any agreement with the European Central Bank. The EU has expressed its dissatisfaction with these unilateral adoptions, but the currency’s use in the two countries has gone forward anyway.
And besides those six independent countries, four of the world's dependent territories also use the euro despite not being part of the EU. The Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, a UK territory on the island of Cyprus, have never been part of the EU, even when the UK was - but the UK has agreed for the country of Cyprus to be in charge of currency in the areas, meaning the Eurozone treats them as part of Cyprus.
Meanwhile, three overseas parts of France have adopted the euro despite not being considered part of the EU: the islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon off the eastern coast of Canada; the island of Saint-Barthélemy (St. Barts) in the Caribbean; and the French Southern and Antarctic Lands, a collection of islands near Madagascar and Antarctica (and according to France, a slice of Antarctica itself) that are uninhabited except for about 100-300 research and military personnel.
What Next for the Eurozone?Many countries sought Eurozone membership at the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008, but most became less interested after the euro was hit by its own crisis in 2009, and are still putting it off today. Denmark, for its part, seems unlikely to upgrade from the ERM II to Eurozone membership any time soon. However, all EU members other than Denmark are legally required to eventually adopt the currency, with Bulgaria and Croatia next in line (likely at the beginning of 2024).
You can stay up to date on Eurozone membership by bookmarking this article (which will be updated if anything changes), or by checking Political Geography Now for new articles about countries joining or leaving the Eurozone. You can also sign up for email updates from the box on the right-hand side of this page, or follow PolGeoNow on Twitter for even more geography news and facts!
Articles covering updates to this map:
Bulgaria and Croatia Enter the ERM II (2020)
Lithuania Joins the Eurozone (2015)
Latvia Joins the Eurozone (2014)