Friday, January 1, 1999 Published at 13:51 GMT
E-Day: The euro is born
Bond traders in London are hard at work to get euro-ready
Europe's single currency, the euro, has finally become a reality after more than a decade of planning and preparations.
In many European countries fireworks and parties welcomed the euro - and the New Year. In Frankfurt, seat of the new European Central Bank, revellers watched a "euro clock" count down the seconds until the launch of the euro.
During the first few months the euro will be used mainly on stock markets, for financial transactions between banks and cashless shopping with cheques and credit cards. Euro bank notes and coins will not be introduced before 2002.
Immediately after the rates were announced, financial experts around the world began to convert all their holdings of eurozone currencies, shares and government debts into the new currency.
They have just three days to do the job. Everything has to be ready when the first major financial markets open for business in Asia on Monday morning, 4 January 1999.
The euro rates
The decision on the conversion rates for the single currency was the final touch to monetary union.
One euro is now worth:
As one euro will replace the artificial European Currency Unit (Ecu) on a 1:1 basis, the last Ecu rates are an indication to the euro's external value.
On 31 December, one Ecu was worth
Wim Duisenberg, the president of the new European Central Bank that is in charge of monetary policy for the eurozone, told journalists that the bank would "do its utmost to ensure the euro is a currency in which European citizens can put their trust and which will keep its value over time".
Jacques Santer, the president of the European Commission, said the launch of the single currency was a historic event, which would bring stability and growth to Europe.
Based on the result the European Commission calculated the euro-value of each currency joining EMU and then proposed the rates to the Council of EU Finance Ministers for approval.
The rates were then published in the Official Journal of the European Communities in Luxembourg and on the Internet.