The three stages of Monetary Union

Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) was established progressively in three stages.

Stage 1: 1990-1993

Stage 1 was used to put the finishing touches to the creation of the single market, to liberalise capital movements and to prohibit the monetary financing of public authorities by central banks.

Stage 2: 1994-1998

During stage 2, a major effort was made to achieve convergence between the economies of the Member States. The Maastricht Treaty set four criteria for measuring that convergence, in terms of inflation, public finances, exchange rates and long-term interest rates. Preparations for stage 3 began, particularly with the establishment of the European Monetary Institute.

The Maastricht criteria

Stage 3: 1999-2002

The third and final stage was dominated by the introduction of the euro. The Madrid European Summit on 15 and 16 December 1995 set the starting date for stage 3 as 1 January 1999, fixing the final euro conversion rates of the participating monetary units, and the finishing date in 2002 with the introduction of euro notes and coins.  

In Belgium, the preparations for the introduction of the euro were coordinated by the General Commission for the Euro, set up on 22 November 1996 and dissolved on 30 April 2002. All the documentation recording its activities was archived on a CD ROM which can be ordered from the National Bank.