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Agriculture in the European Union - Statistical and economic information 2001

Currency units used

1. European Monetary System (EMS) - ecu

Entry into force of the EMS on 13 March 1979 (Regulations (EEC) No 3180/78 and No 3181/78 of 18 December 1978) brought in the ecu as sole unit of account for the Community. Its definition is identical to that of its predecessor the EUA except for a review clause allowing changes in its composition. The ecu is a currency unit of the 'asket' type made up of specified amounts of currencies of the EMS member countries determined mainly on the basis of the economic size of each. It is defined by Council Regulation (EC) No 3320/94. The central rates used in this system are rates set by the central banks around which the market rates of the EMS currencies may fluctuate within spot margins.

2. The ecu in the common agricultural policy

  • Before 9 April 1979, the unit of account used in the agricultural sector was the u.a. defined by Regulation (EEC) No 129/62 and the representative rates (green rates) were fixed by the Council.
  • On 9 April, the ecu began to be used in the CAP [Regulation (EEC) No 652/79] and is still being used [Regulation (EEC) No 3813/92].
  • On the changeover from the u.a. to the ecu on 9 April 1979 common agricultural prices and amounts expressed in u.a. and converted into ecus were adjusted by the coefficient 1,208953. The green rates were however adjusted by the reciprocal coefficient 1/1,208953, leaving national price levels unchanged. For example, 100 u.a. × 3,40 = DEM 340 because ECU 121 × 2,81 = DEM 340.
  • For the recording of world market prices, offer prices are converted at the representative market rate, which is an average of the rates recorded on the market. The common agricultural prices and amounts are set in ecus and converted into national currency at the agricultural conversion rates.
  • Since 1 January 1993 these have been adjusted by the Commission whenever their divergence from representative market rates exceeds specified margins.
  • Between the beginning of the 1984/85 marketing year and 31 January 1995 all conversion rates used for agriculture were multiplied by a correcting factor under the 'switchover' mechanism the effect of which was to express the common agricultural prices and amounts in a unit of account derived from the ecu, the 'green ecu'. This correcting factor, originally 1,033651, was increased in line with the revaluation of the EMS currency appreciating most among those observing all the rules. On abolition it was 1,207509. As on the changeover from the u.a. to the ecu in 1979 common agricultural prices and amounts were increased in ecus by a factor of 1,207509 on 1 February 1995 and all conversion rates used in agriculture reduced by a factor of 1/1,207509 so making the operation neutral in national currency terms.

3. Introduction of the euro

On 1 January 1999, the currencies of the 11 Member States adopting the single currency were replaced by the euro but, during the transitional period until the end of 2001, units of national currency will continue to be used as subdivision of the euro. Series in ecus have been left unchanged as far as the past is concerned but are expressed in euros from 1 January 1999. Series in euro are the statistical continuation of series in ecus.

– Fixed conversion rates of the euro

The conversion rates irrevocably fixed between the euro and the currencies of the Member States adopting the euro are:

1 EUR = 40,3399 Belgian francs
= 1,95583 German marks
= 166,386 Spanish pesetas
= 6,55957 French francs
= 0,787564 Irish pounds
= 1936,27 Italian lire
= 40,3399 Luxembourg francs
= 2,20371 Dutch guilders
= 13,7603 Austrian schillings
= 200,482 Portuguese escudos
= 5,94573 Finnish marks

According to context, different currency units have been used in this publication. The statistical series in terms of value are also calculated:

  • at constant exchange rates, i.e. at the exchange rates obtaining during a specific period (e.g. 1980). These rates are used to eliminate the influences of exchange-rate changes on a time series;
  • at current exchange rates (notably for external trade).

To assist the user of this publication wishing to convert units of account into national currencies and conversely, Table 1.01 gives the rates to be used. Fuller information is given in specialized publications of the European Commission.


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