Monday, June 5, 2023

Which Countries Use the Euro in 2023? (Map of the Eurozone)

This map and explainer article, originally from 2016, have been updated to June 2023 to cover the recent addition of Croatia to the Eurozone. You can see previous versions of the map by viewing all Eurozone articles on PolGeoNow.

Map of the Eurozone (euro area), showing which countries use the euro as their currency. Includes members, pre-members (ERM II or ERM-2 waiting area), EU non-members using the euro, and other EU countries. Color blind accessible. Updated to June 2023 with the recent entry of Croatia into the Eurozone.
Map by Evan Centanni, from blank map by Ssolbergj. License: CC BY-SA

Article by Caleb Centanni and Staff Writer 

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, as their official money. The euro currency is managed 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, headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany, is in charge of regulating the currency and making euro coins and bills (bank notes).

Germany, along with eleven other EU countries, became a founding member of the Eurozone in 1999. Since then, nine more members have joined after meeting certain specific economic requirements. This has brought the total to 20 Eurozone members, including all but seven of the 27 European Union member countries. The only new country to join in the last eight years is Croatia, which adopted the euro at the beginning of 2023.

More Info: Croatia Joins the Eurozone

Nine distant territories of Eurozone member countries are considered part of the EU, and are also part of the Eurozone. These territories (not pictured on the map above) are Portugal's 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?

Map of the European Union (EU) and prospective member countries
The full European Union (EU) and prospective members
A total of seven European Union member countries aren't in the Eurozone. At least, not yet: Two countries - Denmark and Bulgaria - are part of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM II or ERM-2), which ties members’ currency to the euro and is a required in-between step before joining the Eurozone. 

More Info: Croatia and Bulgaria's Entry into the ERM II

All members of the European Union were legally required by the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 to change to the euro once they met the criteria. However, later that year both Denmark and the UK negotiated exemptions from the requirement (the UK later ended up leaving the EU altogether).

Both Denmark and Bulgaria are part of the ERM II today, with Bulgaria planning to adopt the euro soon, while Denmark seems poised to keep its in-between status indefinitely. 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. For more about the prospects on future Eurozone membership, see the "What's Next for the Eurozone" section below.

Which Non-EU Countries and Territories Do Use the Euro?

There are four tiny European countries outside the EU - Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City - that have treaties with the EU allowing them to use the euro as their official currency, even making some of their own euro coins. Meanwhile, two other non-EU-members, Montenegro and the disputed Republic of Kosovo, have adopted the euro on their own initiative, without coming to any agreement with the European Central Bank (they don't make their own coins or bills, instead only using ones made by other countries). The EU has said before that it's not completely happy with these "unilateral" (one-sided) adoptions, but the currency’s use in the two countries has gone forward anyway.

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, which together form 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 200-400 scientific and military personnel.

What Next for the Eurozone?

Many countries tried to hurry up their Eurozone membership at the beginning of the world financial crisis of 2008, but most became less interested after the euro was hit by its own crisis in 2009, and some are still putting it off today. 

Denmark, the only country with an official exemption from having to join the Eurozone, seems likely to continue taking advantage of that special loophole. The remaining six EU members are legally required to eventually adopt the euro, but not all of them are on track to actually do it. Sweden, which joined the EU all the way back in 1995, has managed to dodge the euro requirement for almost 30 years, reluctant to make the switch when the majority of its people seem to be against it. Poland and Czechia, which both joined the EU in 2004, are also still avoiding the euro.

The next country in line to join the Eurozone is Bulgaria, which had earlier planned to join by January 2024, but recently pushed back the date to the beginning of 2025. Romania, which joined the EU alongside Bulgaria in 2007, is working towards eventually entering the Eurozone, but isn't yet eligible to join the ERM II "euro waiting room". Because of that hangup, it isn't expecting to switch to the euro until about 2029, or maybe 2026 at the earliest

Hungary, which joined the EU in 2004, said last year that it might try to join ERM II in 2023. If it does manage to do that, that could put it on track to adopt the euro before Romania, putting it next in line for Eurozone membership after Bulgaria. However, a Hungarian official more recently said the country should wait to join the Eurozone until at least 2030.

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:

Croatia Joins the Eurozone (2023)
Bulgaria and Croatia Enter the ERM II (2020)
Lithuania Joins the Eurozone (2015)
Latvia Joins the Eurozone (2014)

Cartographer's Note: Why did the map turn purple?

You might have noticed that previous versions of PolGeoNow's Eurozone map used shades of blue to represent Eurozone and EU countries, but that this edition has traded those in for shades of purple. That's because several people told us they have trouble telling apart blue-shaded countries from blue bodies of water on our maps. Though most readers don't seem to have this issue, we're dedicated to making our maps accessible to as wide an audience as possible, and it was a simple change. We plan to make the same change to our European Union and Schengen Area maps the next time we update them.

With accessibility in mind, we've also changed the colors used to represent non-EU euro countries in order to make the map clearer for people with certain kinds of colorblindness. For more details, see the update notes at the end of our article on Croatia joining the Eurozone.

Interested in Eurozone and ERM II membership? Check for the latest updates by viewing all Eurozone articles on PolGeoNow!