Single currency of 16 countries of the European Union (EU), including Germany, France, and Italy. It is also the official currency in several areas outside the EU. The euro was adopted as a unit of exchange in January 1999. Those who advocated the currency believed it would strengthen Europe as an economic power, increase international trade, simplify monetary transactions, and lead to pricing equality throughout Europe. Euro currency notes and coins were introduced in January 2002 and became the sole national currency in all participating countries by March 1. Britain and Sweden decided not to adopt the euro immediately, and voters in Denmark rejected it.