European Currency Unit

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The European Currency Unit ( or ECU: French pronunciation: [eky], English: /eɪˈkjuː/ or spelt out /ˌiːˌsiːˈjuː/) was a basket of the currencies of the European Community member states, used as the unit of account of the European Community before being replaced by the euro on January 1, 1999, at parity. The ECU itself replaced the European Unit of Account, also at parity, on March 13, 1979. The European Exchange Rate Mechanism attempted to minimize fluctuations between member state currencies and the ECU. The ECU was also used in some international financial transactions, where its advantage was that securities denominated in ECUs provided investors with the opportunity for foreign diversification without reliance on the currency of a single country.[2]

The ECU was conceived on 13 March 1979 as an internal accounting unit. It had the ISO 4217 currency code XEU.


Euro replaces ECU

On 1 January 1999, the euro (with the code EUR and symbol ) replaced the ECU, at the value €1 = 1 ECU. Unlike the ECU, the euro is a real currency, although not all member states participate (for details on Euro membership see Eurozone). Two of the countries in the ECU basket of currencies, UK and Denmark, did not join the eurozone, and a third, Greece, joined late. On the other hand, Finland and Austria joined the Eurozone from the beginning although their currencies were not part of the ECU basket (since they had joined the EU in 1995, two years after the ECU composition was "frozen").

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