Alessandro Gasparotti, Matthias Kullas.
This year, the euro is celebrating its 20th birthday. From 1 January 1999, the euro could be used as bank money. The celebrations to mark this anniversary have, however, been muted. The reason for this is the still smouldering euro crisis. The euro crisis began at the end of 2009 in Greece and then engulfed numerous other eurozone countries. At its height in mid-2012, five of the then 17 eurozone countries – Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Cyprus – needed financial assistance: Via the specially created financial assistance funds – the EFSM, the EFSF and the ESM – as well as bilateral loans, Greece received € 261.9 billion, Ireland € 45 billion, Spain € 41.3 billion, Portugal € 50.3 billion and Cyprus € 6.3 billion. The situation only eased when, on 26 July 2012, the President of the European Central Bank (ECB), Mario Draghi, promised that the ECB would do everything within its mandate to uphold the currency union: “Within our mandate, the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro.” Thus a breakup of the euro was just about averted.