The euro, transfers, savings: what Europe has changed for your money

It is the most concrete materialization of European cooperation for the 350 million inhabitants of the 20 countries of the eurozone: the euro replaced the German mark, franc, peseta or lira in the wallets of Europeans who gradually adopted it two decades ago.

“The common currency is simple and more pleasant than before,” says Karin, now a 72-year-old German pensioner.

However, Germany was one of the countries where the euro was difficult to adopt, mainly because of the feeling that its arrival was accompanied by a rise in prices: Germans nicknamed it the “teuro”, a pun on the euro. and “teuer”, “dear” in German.

At the beginning of 2010, the debt problems in several countries of the eurozone (Greece, Italy, Ireland, Portugal) also disrupted the solidarity between the states with the risk of currency implosion.

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Since then, however, there has been less criticism. In autumn 2023, 79% of euro users said they were in favor of the currency, according to the standard Eurobarometer conducted by the European Commission.

And if we talk again about the cost of living in the eurozone over the past two years, inflation is “more connected to the Russian war” in Ukraine and “to energy prices”, estimates Mathias Fechter, 61, an independent consultant in Frankfurt.

Free transfers and payments

Whether for tourism or business, paying with a bank card in another European Union country is free from 2018 – although conversion fees may still apply to payments in a currency other than the euro.

No more surcharges for direct debits and bank transfers within the Single Euro Payments Area (or Sepa:) established in 2014, unified the payment systems between 34 countries (the EU, but also the UK or Switzerland) and generalized the use of BIC and IBAN.

By autumn 2025, the absence of additional fees will be extended to instant transfers. But checks still don’t cross the border for free.

More European investment

Will it be possible to invest your savings tomorrow with the same rules across Europe?

Under pressure from Brussels, some national investments have already expanded, such as France’s Plan Epargne en actions (PEA), which since 2002 is no longer limited to companies in the country, but applies to all European companies. Taxation is also simplified, with taxation based only on the country of residence.

However, France is now promoting the creation of a new product available with the same rules and the same taxation for all countries, allowing better use of the savings of European citizens to finance businesses on the continent.

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This would be part of the “Capital Markets Union”, a project launched in 2015 but has since been mired in differences between member countries over the terms of its application. Paris is trying to relaunch the idea during the campaign for Europeans, and some politicians are talking about it on the other side of the Rhine, but the theme is really not unified.

The pan-European Individual Pension Savings Product (PEPP), which complements national products, was launched in 2022 and has not found its audience: barely eight offers are listed in the European online database in four countries (Poland, Croatia, Czech Republic, Slovakia). .

The Europeans have also still not been able to agree on a joint guarantee of bank deposits at the European level up to 100,000 euros.

This mechanism protects consumers’ savings in case the bank gets into trouble (it can also avoid bank failure by discouraging customers from rushing to withdraw their savings because they are protected). However, if the ceiling is the same everywhere in the EU, the guarantee remains applied at national level.

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