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Eurozone Fast Facts

By CNN Library
January 14, 2014 -- Updated 2230 GMT (0630 HKT)
The leaders of Germany and France, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande, are struggling to keep the European Union -- and the euro -- together in the face of the eurozone crisis. The leaders of Germany and France, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande, are struggling to keep the European Union -- and the euro -- together in the face of the eurozone crisis.
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Why unity is so important to Europe
Why unity is so important to Europe
Why unity is so important to Europe
Why unity is so important to Europe
Why unity is so important to Europe
Why unity is so important to Europe
Why unity is so important to Europe
Why unity is so important to Europe
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(CNN) -- Here's a look at what you need to know about the eurozone. Eighteen countries in the European Union use the euro as their currency, and comprise the eurozone.

Facts:
The countries in the eurozone as of 2014 are: Austria , Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

January 1, 1999 - The euro is introduced.

The European Union's Maastricht Treaty "convergence criteria," or requirements for a member country to use the euro as currency:
- Annual budget deficits must not exceed 3% of gross domestic product.
- Public debt must be under 60% of gross domestic product.
- The country must have exchange rate stability
- Inflation rates must be within 1.5% of the three EU countries with the lowest rate.
- Long-term interest rates must be within 2% of the three lowest interest rates in the EU.

The United Kingdom and Denmark do not use the euro, and are not required to be a part of the eurozone.

Public opinion polls in the UK have shown opposition as high as 75% to adopting the euro.

Sweden does not belong to the eurozone but must join in the future, according to the terms of the treaty.

Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania belong to the EU, but do not currently meet the criteria for joining the eurozone.

Timeline:
February 1992 - The Maastricht Treaty (officially - The Treaty on European Union) is signed by the 12 member countries of the European Community. It includes provisions for an Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).

May 1998 - It is confirmed that Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain fulfill the necessary conditions to adopt the euro.

June 1998 - The European Central Bank is established in Frankfurt, Germany, to manage the new common currency.

January 1, 1999 - The euro is launched, in non-physical form. It can be traded electronically and used in travelers' checks.

September 2000 - Denmark rejects the adoption of the euro in a referendum.

January 2001 - Greece joins the eurozone after initially being rejected.

January 1, 2002 - Currency notes and coins are introduced in eurozone countries.

February 2002 - The euro becomes the sole currency of eurozone member countries.

2007 - Slovenia becomes the first former Communist country to use the euro.

2008 - Malta and Greek-controlled Cyprus join the eurozone.

2009 - Slovakia joins the eurozone.

2011 - Estonia joins the eurozone.

August 12, 2011 - The European Securities and Markets Authority imposes a ban on short selling stocks in France, Italy, Spain and Belgium in response to extreme stock market volatility.

September 15, 2011 - The European Central Bank, the Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan and the Swiss National Bank announce a coordinated plan to pump dollars into Europe's financial system in an effort to boost liquidity across the eurozone. The banks will hold three auctions for U.S. dollars, with a three-month maturity, through the end of the year with the goal of providing U.S. dollars to struggling European banks that need the currency to fund loans and repay debt.

November 30, 2011 - The U.S. Federal Reserve along with central banks of the eurozone, England, Japan, Switzerland and Canada, announce a coordinated plan to lower prices on dollar liquidity swaps beginning on December 5, and extending these swap arrangements to February 1, 2013.

December 9, 2011 - A majority of European leaders agree on a new deal to try to resolve the continent's debt crisis, but Britain refuses to back a broader treaty change. The agreement includes: handing over the running of the EU's bailout funds to the European Central Bank and adding 200 billion euros to the resources of the International Monetary Fund.

June 29, 2012 - European leaders reach a deal to create a single supervisory body to oversee the eurozone's banks which could use the single currency area's rescue funds, the European Financial Stability Facility or European Stability Mechanism, to aid banks directly without adding to governments' debt.

September 12, 2012 - The German Constitutional Court rules against a group of conservative politicians who requested an injunction that would bar Germany from ratifying the treaty governing the European Stability Mechanism.

November 15, 2012 - The eurozone officially slips into recession. It's the second recession since 2009, making it a double dip.

December 13, 2012 - The European Union reaches a banking supervision agreement with the European Central Bank.

January 1, 2014 - Latvia joins the eurozone as the 18th member country.

2012 Eurozone Figures: (from Eurostat)
- Debt as a percentage of GDP (must not exceed 60%)
- Deficit as a percentage of GDP (must not exceed -3%)

Austria
- Debt: 73.4%
- Deficit: - 2.5%

Belgium
- Debt: 99.6%
- Deficit: - 3.9%

Cyprus
- Debt: 85.8%
- Deficit: - 6.3%

Estonia
- Debt: 10.1%
- Deficit: -.3%

Finland
- Debt: 53%
- Deficit: - 1.9%

France
- Debt: 90.2%
- Deficit: - 4.8%

Germany
- Debt: 81.9%
- Deficit: .2%

Greece
- Debt: 156.9%
- Deficit: - 10%

Ireland
- Debt: 117.6%
- Deficit: - 7.6%

Italy
- Debt: 127%
- Deficit: - 3.0%

Luxembourg
- Debt: 20.8%
- Deficit: - 0.8%

Malta
- Debt: 72.1%
- Deficit: - 3.3%

The Netherlands
- Debt: 71.2%
- Deficit: - 4.1%

Portugal
- Debt: 123.6%
- Deficit: - 6.4%

Slovakia
- Debt: 43.3%
- Deficit: - 4.3%

Slovenia
- Debt: 54.1%
- Deficit: - 4%

Spain
- Debt: 84.2%
- Deficit: - 10.6%

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