There are eight euro coin denominations, ranging from one cent to two euros. The coins first came into use in 2002, they have a common reverse, portraying a map of Europe, but each country in the eurozone has its own design on the obverse, which means that each coin has a variety of different designs in circulation at once. Four European microstates which use the euro as their currency have the right to mint coins with their own designs on the obverse side; the coins, various commemorative coins, are minted at numerous national mints across the European Union to strict national quotas. Obverse designs are chosen nationally, while the reverse and the currency as a whole is managed by the European Central Bank; the euro came into existence on 1 January 1999. It had been a goal of its predecessors since the 1960s; the Maastricht Treaty entered into force in 1993 with the goal of creating economic and monetary union by 1999 for all EU states except the UK and Denmark. In 1999 the currency was born and in 2002 notes and coins began to circulate.
It replaced the former national currencies and the eurozone has since expanded further to some newer EU states. In 2009 the Lisbon Treaty formalised its political authority, the Eurogroup, alongside the European Central Bank. In 2004 €2 commemorative coins were allowed to be minted in six states. By 2007, all states but France and the Netherlands had minted a commemorative issue and the first eurozone-wide commemorative coin was issued to celebrate 50 years of the Treaty of Rome. In 2009, the second eurozone-wide issue of a 2-euro commemorative coin was issued, celebrating ten years of the Economic and Monetary Union. In 2012, the third eurozone-wide issue of a 2-euro commemorative coin was issued, celebrating 10 years of euro coins and notes. To date, only Cyprus has not independently issued a €2 commemorative coin; as the EU's membership has since expanded in 2004, 2007 and 2013, with further expansions envisaged, the common face of all euro coins from the value of 10c and above were redesigned in 2007 to show a new map.
Slovenia joined the eurozone in 2007, Cyprus and Malta joined in 2008, Slovakia in 2009, Estonia in 2011, Latvia in 2014 and Lithuania in 2015, introducing seven more national-side designs. Andorra started minting coins in 2014, so from 2015 there are 23 countries with their own national sides. There are eight different denominations of euro coins: 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, €1 and €2; the 1c, 2c and 5c coins show Europe in relation to Africa in the world. The remaining coins show the EU before its enlargement in May 2004 if minted before 1 January 2007, or a geographical map of Europe if minted after. Coins from Italy, San Marino, the Vatican City and Portugal show the geographical map if minted in 2008 or later; the common side was designed by Luc Luycx of the Royal Belgian Mint. They symbolise the unity of the EU; the national sides were designed by the NCBs of the eurozone in separate competitions. There are specifications. National designs were not allowed to change until the end of 2008, unless a monarch dies or abdicates.
National designs have seen some changes due to a new rule stating that national designs should include the name of the issuing country. The common side of the 1c, 2c and 5c coins depict the denomination, the words'EURO CENT' beside it, twelve stars and Europe highlighted on a globe in relation to Asia and Africa in the world; the common side of the 10c, 20c and 50c coins depict the denomination on the right, the words'EURO CENT' underneath it, with twelve stars and the European continent on the left. Coins minted from 1999 to 2006 depicted only the EU15, rather than the entire European continent, on coins minted after 2007; the common side of the €1 and €2 coins depict the denomination on the left, the currency, map of Europe and twelve stars on the right. Coins minted from 1999 to 2006 depicted the EU15, rather than the whole European continent, on coins minted from 2007. All coins have a common reverse side showing how much the coin is worth, with a design by Belgian designer Luc Luycx; the design of the 1c, 2c and 5c coins shows Europe's place in the world as a whole.
The 10c coins and above show either the 15 countries that were the European Union in 2002, or, if minted after 2007, the whole European continent. Coins from Italy, San Marino, the Vatican and Portugal show the new design if minted 2008 or later; the coins symbolise the unity of the EU. On 7 June 2005, the European Council decided that the common side of the 10c to €2 coins should be brought up to date to reflect the enlargement of the EU in 2004; the 1c, 2c and 5c coins show Europe in relation to the rest of the world, therefore they remained unchanged. In 2007, the new design was introduced; the design still retains all elements of the original designs, including the twelve stars, but the map of the fifteen states is replaced by one showing the whole of Europe as a continent, without borders, to stress unity. These coins were not mandatory for existing eurozone members when introduced in 2007, but became so for every member in 2008. Cyprus is shown several hundred kilometres north west of its real position in order to include it on the map.
On the €1 and €2 coins, the island is shown to be directly east of mainland Greece. The original proposal from the European Commission was to include Turkey on the map, but this design was rejected by the Council; the original designs of the 10c, 20c and 50c coins showed the ou
50 euro cent coin
The 50 euro cent coin has a value of half a euro and are composed of an alloy called nordic gold. All coins have country-specific national sides; the coin has been used since 2002, with the present common side design dating from 2007. The coin dates from 2001, when euro coins and banknotes were introduced in the 12 member eurozone and its related territories; the common side was designed by Luc Luycx, a Belgian artist who won a Europe-wide competition to design the new coins. The design of the 10 to 50 cent coins were intended to show separate states of the European Union, as opposed to the one and two euro coins showing the 15 states as one and the 1 to 5 cent coins showing the EU's place in the world; the national sides 15 were each designed according to national competitions, though to specifications which applied to all coins such as the requirement of including twelve stars. National designs were not allowed to change until the end of 2008, unless a monarch dies or abdicates; this happened in the Vatican City resulting in three new designs in circulation.
National designs have seen some changes due to new rules stating that national designs should include the name of the issuing country. As the EU's membership has since expanded in 2004 and 2007, with further expansions envisaged, the common face of all euro coins from the value of 10 cent and above were redesigned in 2007 to show a new map; this map showed Europe, not just the EU, as one continuous landmass, however Cyprus was moved west as the map cut off after the Bosporus. The redesign in 2007, rather than in 2004, was due to the fact that 2007 saw the first enlargement of the eurozone. Hence, the Slovenian design was added to the designs in circulation. Two more designs were added in 2008 with the entry of Cyprus and Malta and another one in 2009 with Slovakia. Two more were added in 2011 and 2014, for Estonia and Latvia and Lithuania in 2015; the coins are composed of an alloy called Nordic gold, with a diameter of 24.25 mm, a 2.38 mm thickness and a mass of 7.80 grams. The coins' edges have regular indentations.
The coins have been used from 2002, though some are dated 1999, the year the euro was created as a currency, but not put into general circulation. The reverse displays a map of Europe on the left; the map does not include Iceland and cuts off on the right through Russia (exactly, at a line from the Kandalaksha Gulf to the Bosphorus. The map is flat and level with most of the coin and the sea is shown as an indentation. Six fine lines cut through the sea, breaking when passing through the map, at their ends at the top and bottom are twelve stars. To the right, in raised lettering, is "50 Euro Cent" with the'50' being shown much larger than the words; the designers initials, LL, appear next to the 0 in 50. Luc Luycx designed the original coin, much the same except the design was only of the 15 members and shown with gaps between the states and raised rather than with an indented sea; the obverse side of the coin depends on the issuing country. All have to include the engravers initials and the year of issue.
New designs have to include the name or initials of the issuing country. The side cannot repeat the denomination of the coin unless the issuing country uses an alphabet other than Latin. Despite using the Latin alphabet, Austria repeats the denomination on its coins. Austria and Greece will at some point need to update their designs to comply with guidelines stating they must include the issuing state's name or initial, not repeat the denomination of the coin. In addition, there are several EU states that have not yet adopted the euro, some of them have agreed upon their coin designs however it is not yet known when they will adopt the currency, hence these are not yet minted. See enlargement of the Eurozone for expected entry dates of these countries. "National sides: 50 cents". European Central Bank. Retrieved 18 August 2009
2 euro coin
The 2 euro coin is the highest value euro coin and has been used since the introduction of the euro in 2002. The coin is used in 22 countries with a collective population of about 341 million; the coin is made of two alloys: the outer part of copper-nickel. All coins have country-specific national sides; the coin has been used since 2002, with the present common side design dating from 2007. The €2 coin is the coin subject to legal-tender commemorative issues and hence there is a large number of national sides, including three issues of identical commemorative sides by all eurozone members; the coin dates from 2002, when euro coins and notes were introduced in the 12-member eurozone and its related territories. The common side was designed by Luc Luycx, a Belgian artist who won a Europe-wide competition to design the new coins; the designs of the one- and two-euro coins were intended to show the European Union as a whole with the then-15 countries more joined together than on the 10 to 50-cent coins.
The national sides 15 were each designed according to national competitions, though to specifications which applied to all coins such as the requirement of including twelve stars. National designs were not allowed to change until the end of 2008, unless a monarch dies or abdicates; this happened in the Vatican City, resulting in three new designs in circulation. National designs have seen some changes due to a new rule stating that national designs should include the name of the issuing country. In 2004 the commemorative coins were allowed to be minted in six states. By 2007 nearly all states had issued a commemorative issue and the first eurozone-wide commemorative was issued to celebrate the Treaty of Rome; as the EU's membership has since expanded in 2004 and 2007, with further expansions envisaged, the common face of all euro coins from the value of 10 euro cent and above were redesigned in 2007 to show a new map. This map showed Europe, not just the EU, as one continuous landmass; the redesign in 2007, rather than in 2004, was due to the fact that 2007 saw the first enlargement of the eurozone: the entry of Slovenia.
Hence, the Slovenian design was added to the designs in circulation. Cyprus and Malta joined in Slovakia in 2009 and Estonia in 2011, bringing four more designs. In 2009, the second eurozone-wide issue of a 2-euro commemorative coin was issued, celebrating ten years of the introduction of the euro. In 2012, the third eurozone-wide issue of a 2-euro commemorative coin was issued, celebrating 10 years of euro coins and notes. In 2015, the fourth eurozone-wide issue for this denomination was issued, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Flag of Europe; the coins are composed of two alloys. The inner circle is composed of three layers and the outer ring of copper-nickel giving them a two colour appearance; the diameter of the coins is 25.75 mm, the thickness is 2.20 mm and the mass is 8.5 grams. The coins' edges are finely milled with lettering, though the exact design of the edge can vary between states with some choosing to write the issuing state's name or denomination around the edge; the coins have been used from 2002, though some are dated 1999, the year the euro was created as a currency, but not put into general circulation.
The reverse was designed by Luc Luycx and displays a map of Europe, not including Iceland and cutting off, in a semicircle, at the Bosporus, north through the middle of Ukraine and Belarus and through northern Scandinavia. Cyprus is located further west than it should be and Malta is shown disproportionally large so it appears on the map; the map has numerous indentations giving an appearance of geography rather than a flat design. Six fine lines cut across the map except where there is landmass and have a star at each end – reflecting the twelve stars on the flag of Europe. Across the map is the word EURO, a large number 2 appears to the left hand side of the coin; the designer's initials, LL, appear next to Cyprus. Luc Luycx designed the original coin, much the same except the design was only of the 15 members in their entirety and showing border and no geographic features; the map was less detailed and the lines the stars were upon cut through where there would be landmass in eastern Europe if it were shown.
The obverse side of the coin depends on the issuing country. All have to include the engravers initials and the year of issue. New designs have to include the name or initials of the issuing country; the side cannot repeat the denomination of the coin unless the issuing country uses an alphabet other than Latin. Austria engraves "2 EURO" on the reverse of its coins; the edges of the 2 euro coin vary according to the issuing state.
The euro sign is the currency sign used for the euro, the official currency of the European Union and some non-EU countries. The design was presented to the public by the European Commission on 12 December 1996, it consists of a stylized letter E, crossed by two lines instead of one. The character is encoded in Unicode at U+20AC € EURO SIGN. In English, the sign precedes the value. In some style guides, the euro sign is not spaced; the euro currency sign was designed to be similar in structure to the old sign for the European Currency Unit. There were 32 proposals; these ten were put to a public survey. After the survey had narrowed the original ten proposals down to two, it was up to the European Commission to choose the final design; the other designs that were considered are not available for the public to view, nor is any information regarding the designers available for public query. The European Commission considers the process of designing to have been internal and keeps these records secret.
The eventual winner was a design created by a team of four experts whose identities have not been revealed. It is assumed that the Belgian graphic designer Alain Billiet was the winner and thus the designer of the euro sign. Inspiration for the € symbol itself came from the Greek epsilon – a reference to the cradle of European civilization – and the first letter of the word Europe, crossed by two parallel lines to ‘certify’ the stability of the euro; the official story of the design history of the euro sign is disputed by Arthur Eisenmenger, a former chief graphic designer for the European Economic Community, who claims he had the idea prior to the European Commission. The European Commission specified a euro logo with exact proportions and colours, for use in public-relations material related to the euro introduction. While the Commission intended the logo to be a prescribed glyph shape, type designers made it clear that they intended to design their own variants instead. Generating the euro sign using a computer depends on the operating system and national conventions.
Some mobile phone companies issued an interim software update for their special SMS character set, replacing the less-frequent Japanese yen sign with the euro sign. Mobile phones have both currency signs; the euro is represented in the Unicode character set with the character name EURO SIGN and the code position U+20AC as well as in updated versions of the traditional Latin character set encodings. In HTML, the &euro. An implicit character encoding, along with the fact that the code position of the euro sign is different in common encoding schemes, led to many problems displaying the euro sign in computer applications. While displaying the euro sign is no problem as long as only one system is used, mixed setups produced errors. One example is a content management system where articles are stored in a database using a different character set than the editor's computer. Another is legacy software which could only handle older encodings such as ISO 8859-1 that contained no euro sign at all. In such situations, character set conversions had to be made introducing conversion errors such as a question mark being displayed instead of a euro sign.
Care has been taken to avoid replacing an existing obsolete currency sign with the euro sign. That could create different currency signs for sender and receiver in e-mails or web sites, with confusions about business agreements as a result. Depending on keyboard layout and the operating system, the symbol can be entered as: AltGr+4 AltGr+5 AltGr+E AltGr+U Ctrl+Alt+4 Ctrl+Alt+5 Ctrl+Alt+e in Microsoft Word in United States layout Alt+0128 in Microsoft Windows Ctrl+⇧ Shift+u followed by 20ac in Chrome OS, in other operating systems using IBus. Ctrl+k followed by =e in the Vim text editor On the macOS operating system, a variety of key combinations are used depending on the keyboard layout, for example: ⌥ Option+2 in British layout ⌥ Option+⇧ Shift+2 in United States layout ⌥ Option+⇧ Shift+5 in Slovenian layout ⌥ Option+$ in French layout ⌥ Option+E in German and Italian layout ⇧ Shift+4 in Swedish layoutThe Compose key sequence for the euro sign is =E. Placement of the sign varies. Countries have sustained those of their former currencies.
For example, in Ireland and the Netherlands, where previous currency signs were placed before the figure, the euro sign is universally placed in the same position. In many other countries, including France, Germany, Spain and Lithuania, an amount such as €3.50 is written as 3,50 € instead in accordance with conventions for previous currencies. The European Union did indeed usher a guideline on the use of the euro sign, stating it should be placed in front of the amount without any space in English, but after the amount in most other languages. In English, the euro sign—like the dollar sign and the pound sign —is placed before the figure, unspaced, as used by publications such as the Financial Times and The Economist; when written out, "euro" is placed after the value in lower case. No official recommendation is made with regard to the use of a cent sign, usage differs between and within m
Stability and Growth Pact
The Stability and Growth Pact is an agreement, among the 28 member states of the European Union, to facilitate and maintain the stability of the Economic and Monetary Union. Based on Articles 121 and 126 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, it consists of fiscal monitoring of members by the European Commission and the Council of Ministers, the issuing of a yearly recommendation for policy actions to ensure a full compliance with the SGP in the medium-term. If a Member State breaches the SGP's outlined maximum limit for government deficit and debt, the surveillance and request for corrective action will intensify through the declaration of an Excessive Deficit Procedure; the pact was outlined by a resolution and two council regulations in July 1997. The first regulation "on the strengthening of the surveillance of budgetary positions and the surveillance and coordination of economic policies", known as the "preventive arm", entered into force 1 July 1998; the second regulation "on speeding up and clarifying the implementation of the excessive deficit procedure", known as the "dissuasive arm", entered into force 1 January 1999.
The purpose of the pact was to ensure that fiscal discipline would be maintained and enforced in the EMU. All EU member states are automatically members of both the EMU and the SGP, as this is defined by paragraphs in the EU Treaty itself; the fiscal discipline is ensured by the SGP by requiring each Member State, to implement a fiscal policy aiming for the country to stay within the limits on government deficit and debt. As outlined by the "preventive arm" regulation, all EU member states are each year obliged to submit a SGP compliance report for the scrutiny and evaluation of the European Commission and the Council of Ministers, that will present the country's expected fiscal development for the current and subsequent three years; these reports are called "stability programmes" for eurozone Member States and "convergence programmes" for non-eurozone Member States, but despite having different titles they are identical in regards of the content. After the reform of the SGP in 2005, these programmes have included the Medium-Term budgetary Objectives, being individually calculated for each Member State as the medium-term sustainable average-limit for the country's structural deficit, the Member State is obliged to outline the measures it intends to implement to attain its MTO.
If the EU Member State does not comply with both the deficit limit and the debt limit, a so-called "Excessive Deficit Procedure" is initiated along with a deadline to comply, which includes and outlines an "adjustment path towards reaching the MTO". This procedure is outlined by the "dissuasive arm" regulation; the SGP was proposed by German finance minister Theo Waigel in the mid-1990s. Germany had long maintained a low-inflation policy, an important part of the German economy's strong performance since the 1950s; the German government hoped to ensure the continuation of that policy through the SGP, which would ensure the prevalence of fiscal responsibility, limit the ability of governments to exert inflationary pressures on the European economy. As such, it was described to be a key tool for the Member States adopting the euro, to ensure that they did not only meet the Maastricht convergence criteria at the time of adopting the euro, but kept on to comply with the fiscal criteria for the following years.
The Pact has been criticised by some as being insufficiently flexible and needing to be applied over the economic cycle rather than in any one year. They fear that by limiting governments' abilities to spend during economic slumps it may hamper growth. In contrast, other critics think; this is amply evidenced by the “creative accounting” gimmickry used by many countries to achieve the required deficit to GDP ratio of 3 percent, by the immediate abandonment of fiscal prudence by some countries as soon as they were included in the euro club. The Stability Pact has been watered down at the request of Germany and France."Some remark that it has been applied inconsistently: the Council of Ministers failed to apply sanctions against France and Germany, while punitive proceedings were started when dealing with Portugal and Greece. In 2002 the European Commission President Romano Prodi described it as "stupid", but was still required by the Treaty to seek to apply its provisions; the Pact has proved to be unenforceable against big countries such as France and Germany, which were its strongest promoters when it was created.
These countries have run "excessive" deficits under the Pact definition for some years. The reasons that larger countries have not been punished include their influence and large number of votes on the Council of Ministers, which must approve sanctions; the Pact was further weakened in 2005 to waive Germany's violations. In March 2005
France the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean, it is bordered by Belgium and Germany to the northeast and Italy to the east, Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic and Indian oceans; the country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nice. During the Iron Age, what is now metropolitan France was inhabited by a Celtic people. Rome annexed the area in 51 BC, holding it until the arrival of Germanic Franks in 476, who formed the Kingdom of Francia.
The Treaty of Verdun of 843 partitioned Francia into Middle Francia and West Francia. West Francia which became the Kingdom of France in 987 emerged as a major European power in the Late Middle Ages following its victory in the Hundred Years' War. During the Renaissance, French culture flourished and a global colonial empire was established, which by the 20th century would become the second largest in the world; the 16th century was dominated by religious civil wars between Protestants. France became Europe's dominant cultural and military power in the 17th century under Louis XIV. In the late 18th century, the French Revolution overthrew the absolute monarchy, established one of modern history's earliest republics, saw the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which expresses the nation's ideals to this day. In the 19th century, Napoleon established the First French Empire, his subsequent Napoleonic Wars shaped the course of continental Europe. Following the collapse of the Empire, France endured a tumultuous succession of governments culminating with the establishment of the French Third Republic in 1870.
France was a major participant in World War I, from which it emerged victorious, was one of the Allies in World War II, but came under occupation by the Axis powers in 1940. Following liberation in 1944, a Fourth Republic was established and dissolved in the course of the Algerian War; the Fifth Republic, led by Charles de Gaulle, remains today. Algeria and nearly all the other colonies became independent in the 1960s and retained close economic and military connections with France. France has long been a global centre of art and philosophy, it hosts the world's fourth-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is the leading tourist destination, receiving around 83 million foreign visitors annually. France is a developed country with the world's sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP, tenth-largest by purchasing power parity. In terms of aggregate household wealth, it ranks fourth in the world. France performs well in international rankings of education, health care, life expectancy, human development.
France is considered a great power in global affairs, being one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council with the power to veto and an official nuclear-weapon state. It is a leading member state of the European Union and the Eurozone, a member of the Group of 7, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, La Francophonie. Applied to the whole Frankish Empire, the name "France" comes from the Latin "Francia", or "country of the Franks". Modern France is still named today "Francia" in Italian and Spanish, "Frankreich" in German and "Frankrijk" in Dutch, all of which have more or less the same historical meaning. There are various theories as to the origin of the name Frank. Following the precedents of Edward Gibbon and Jacob Grimm, the name of the Franks has been linked with the word frank in English, it has been suggested that the meaning of "free" was adopted because, after the conquest of Gaul, only Franks were free of taxation.
Another theory is that it is derived from the Proto-Germanic word frankon, which translates as javelin or lance as the throwing axe of the Franks was known as a francisca. However, it has been determined that these weapons were named because of their use by the Franks, not the other way around; the oldest traces of human life in what is now France date from 1.8 million years ago. Over the ensuing millennia, Humans were confronted by a harsh and variable climate, marked by several glacial eras. Early hominids led a nomadic hunter-gatherer life. France has a large number of decorated caves from the upper Palaeolithic era, including one of the most famous and best preserved, Lascaux. At the end of the last glacial period, the climate became milder. After strong demographic and agricultural development between the 4th and 3rd millennia, metallurgy appeared at the end of the 3rd millennium working gold and bronze, iron. France has numerous megalithic sites from the Neolithic period, including the exceptiona
Economy of Europe
The economy of Europe comprises more than 740 million people in 50 different countries. Formation of the European Union and in 1999, the introduction of a unified currency – the euro brings participating European countries closer through the conveniece of a shared currency and has led to a stronger European cash flow; the difference in wealth across Europe can be seen in former Cold War divide, with some countries breaching the divide. Whilst most European states have a GDP per capita higher than the world's average and are highly developed, some European economies, despite their position over the world's average in the Human Development Index, are poorer. Throughout this article "Europe" and derivatives of the word are taken to include selected states whose territory is only in Europe – such as Turkey and the Russian Federation – and states that are geographically in Asia, bordering Europe and culturally adherent to the continent – such as Armenia and Cyprus. Europe in 2010 had a nominal GDP of $19.920 trillion.
Europe's largest national economies with GDP of more than $1 trillion are: Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Netherlands,Other large european economies are that of Turkey, Poland, Switzerland and Austria. European Union generates about 75-80 % of Europe's GDP; the EU as a whole is the wealthiest and largest economy in the world, topping the US by more than 2 trillion at the time of the financial crisis. In 2009 Europe remained the world's wealthiest region, its $33 trillion in assets under management represented more than one-third of the world's wealth. Unlike North America it was one of few regions. Of the top 500 largest corporations measured by revenue, 184 have their headquarters in Europe. 161 are 15 in Switzerland, 6 in Russia, 1 in Turkey, 1 in Norway. As noted in 2010 by the Spanish sociologist Manuel Castells, the average standard of living in Western Europe is high: "The bulk of the population in Western Europe still enjoys the highest living standards in the world, in the world's history."
Prior to World War II, Europe's major financial and industrial states were the United Kingdom and Germany. The Industrial Revolution, which began in Britain, had spread across Europe, before long the entire continent was at a high level of industry. World War I had led to the industries of some European states stalling, but in the run-up to World War II Europe had recovered well, was competing with the ever-increasing economic might of the United States of America. However, World War II caused the destruction of most of Europe's industrial centres, much of the continent's infrastructure was laid to waste. Following World War II, European governments were in tatters. Many non-Socialist European governments moved to link their economies, laying the foundation for what would become the European Union; this meant a huge increase in cross-border trade. Whilst these European states improved their economies, by the 1980s, the economy of the COMECON was struggling due to the massive cost of the Cold War.
The GDP and the living standards of Central and Eastern European states were lower than in other parts of Europe. The European Community grew to 12 in this period. Average living standards in Europe rose during the post-war period, as characterised by these findings:Per capita private consumption in 1980 Luxembourg: 5495 France: 5395 Germany, Federal Republic: 5319 Belgium: 5143 Denmark: 4802 Netherlands: 4792 United Kingdom: 4343 Italy: 4288 Ireland: 3029Per capita personal disposable income in 1980 Belgium: 6202 France: 6044 Germany, Federal Republic: 5661 Netherlands: 5490 Italy: 5378 Denmark: 4878 United Kingdom: 4698 When the'Eastern Bloc' dissolved around 1991, these states struggled to adapt to free-market systems. There was, however, a huge variation in degrees of success, with Central European states such as the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland adapting reasonably whilst states that used to form the USSR such as Russia and Ukraine struggled to reform their crumbling infrastructures.
Many developed European countries were quick to develop economic ties with fellow European states, where democracy was reintroduced. After the Revolutions of 1989, states in Central Europe and the Baltic states dealt with change, former Yugoslavian republics descended into war and Russia and Belarus are still struggling with their old systems. Europe's largest economy, struggled upon unification in 1991 with former communist German Democratic Republic, or East Germany, influenced by the Soviet Union; the GDR had much of its industrial infrastructure removed during the Cold War, for many years unified Germany struggled to build infrastructure in the former East Germany up to the level of former West Germany. Peace did not come to Yugoslavia for a decade, by 2003, there were still many NATO and EU peacekeeping troops present in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. War hampered economic growth, with only Slovenia making any real progress in the 1990s; the European economy was affecte