Statistics Explained

Exchange rates and interest rates

Data extracted in January 2022.

Planned article update: February 2023.


Between 2011 and 2021, the euro depreciated overall by 15.2 % against the Chinese renminbi-yuan, 15.0 % against the United States dollar and by 12.3 % against the Swiss franc.

In 2021, the highest Maastricht criterion bond yields were recorded by Romania (3.62 %) and Hungary (3.06 %), while negative yields were recorded in 8 EU Member States, the largest in Germany (-0.37 %).

[[File:Exchange rates - intetest rates dynamic 2022.xlsx]]

Exchange rates against the euro, 2011–2021

This article presents an analysis of exchange rates and interest rates, which are some of Eurostat’s most frequently updated statistics. It is important to note that practically all of Eurostat’s data in monetary terms are denominated in euro, including statistics for European Union (EU) Member States that are not part of the euro area (EA) and data for other countries. This information is derived by converting data in national currencies to data in euro using the exchange rates (EUR — see currency codes). As such, for most of the monetary statistics that are released by Eurostat, it is necessary to bear in mind the possible effect of currency fluctuations when making comparisons across countries for indicators denominated in euro terms, in particular when analysing time series.

This article starts by considering the development of exchange rates across the EU, as well as exchange rate fluctuations between the euro and several currencies of other countries, in particular the United States dollar, Japanese yen, the United Kingdom’s pound sterling, Chinese renminbi-yuan and Swiss franc (all of which are important reserve currencies and/or commonly used for denominating international loans).

The second half of the article examines interest rates — in other words, the cost of lending/borrowing money. At the macroeconomic level, key interest rates are generally set by central banks, as a primary tool for monetary policy with the goal of maintaining price stability.

Full article

Exchange rates

Table 1 shows the annual average exchange rates between the euro and a selection of European currencies, as well as the Chinese renminbi-yuan, the Japanese yen and the United States dollar, between 2011 and 2021. The development of these exchange rates is also shown in the four different charts that make up Figure 1 (Figures 1a–1d), where the currencies are grouped together according to the magnitude of their various exchange rates against the euro. Among the EU Member States, non-euro area members may fix their exchange rates against the euro as part of the exchange rate mechanism (ERM II) in preparation for joining the EA and this explains some of the very stable euro exchange rates: The current members of ERM II are Bulgaria (since 10 July 2020), Denmark (since 1 January 1999) and Croatia (since 10 July 2020).

Table 1: Exchange rates against the euro, 2011–2021
(1 EUR = … national currency)
Source: Eurostat (ert_bil_eur_a), ECB

Focusing on the exchange rates of non-euro area Member States, between 2011 and 2021, the euro appreciated most strongly against the Hungarian forint (28.3 %), the Romanian leu (16.1 %), the Swedish krona (12.4 %) and the Polish zloty (10.8 %). The remaining non-euro area Member States experienced smaller changes in their exchange rates, i.e. Czechia (overall appreciation of the euro of 4.3 %), Croatia (appreciation of 1.2 %) and Denmark (depreciation of 0.2 %). The exchange rate between the euro and the Bulgarian lev was unchanged during the period as the lev has been pegged to the euro since its launch in 1999.

In Figures 1a–1d, the exchange rates against the euro for 2011–2021 are shown for the countries listed in Table 1 (except the Bulgarian lev, which has been unchange during the period). The countries are assigned to the different Figures depending on their national currency’s exchange rate against the euro in 2021. Thus, different scales are used for the y-axes in the individual charts. A fall in the exchange rate shows an appreciation in the value of the foreign currency and a depreciation in the value of the euro.

Figure 1a shows the development of the euro against United Kingdom’s pound sterling (GBP), Swiss franc (CHF), and US dollar (USD).

Overall, the euro depreciated by 1.0 % against the United Kingdom’s pound sterling over the period 2011–2021. This overall change reflected falls in the value of the euro in 2012, 2014, 2015, 2019, and 2021, which collectively had higher impact than the increases in the value of the euro in other years. There was a particularly volatile period in 2015-16, with a large depreciation of the euro against the pound sterling in 2015 (down 10.0 %) followed by a large appreciation in 2016 (up 12.9 %).

The euro depreciated against the Swiss franc by 12.3 % over the period. The euro fluctuated slightly against the franc between 2011 and 2014, followed by a steep fall in 2015 (down 12.1 %). Despite modest appreciations in the value of the euro in 2016, 2017 and 2018, further depreciations in 2019 and 2020 also contributed to its overall depreciation over the period.

The euro depreciated by 15.0 % against the United States dollar between 2011 and 2021. The exchange rate between the euro and the dollar followed a similar trend as the Swiss franc, and initially fluctuated, with the euro depreciating in 2012 but appreciating in 2013. The exchange rate was almost unchanged in 2014, but in 2015, there was a considerably sharper depreciation in the value of the euro against the United States dollar (16.5 %). Thereafter, developments were again irregular, with the euro appreciating in 2017, 2018, 2020 and 2021, but depreciating in 2019.

Figure 1a: Exchange rates against the euro, 2011–2021
(1 EUR = … national currency)
Source: Eurostat (ert_bil_eur_a)

Figure 1b shows the development of the euro against Polish zloty (PLN), Romanian leu (RON), Danish krone (DKK), Croatian kuna (HRK) and Chinese renminbi-yuan (CNY).

Between 2011 and 2021, the euro appreciated strongly against the Polish zloty, by 10.8 %. Over the period, the zloty was stable or depreciated against the euro in all years except 2017 (appreciation of 2.4 %).

Similarly, the euro appreciated strongly against the Romanian leu by 16.1 % over the period. The leu was stable or depreciated against the euro in all years except 2013 (appreciation of 0.9 %).

Denmark and Croatia are members of ERM II and thus have their currencies pegged to the euro, Denmark (with a fluctuation band of +/- 2.25 %) since 1 January 1999 and Croatia since 10 July 2020. Over the time period 2011-2021, both countries therefore only had minor changes in their exchange rates; the euro appreciated against the Croatian kuna by 1.2 % and depreciated against the Danish krone by 0.2 %.

Overall, the euro depreciated by 15.2 % against the Chinese renminbi-yuan between 2011 and 2021. There were two years of marked depreciation in the value of the euro against the renminbi-yuan during the last 10 years, namely in 2012 (down 9.9 %) and 2015 (down 14.8 %). The euro also depreciated, but only slightly, in 2019 and 2021. In all other years between 2011 and 2021, the euro appreciated against the Chinese renminbi-yuan.

Figure 1b: Exchange rates against the euro, 2011–2021
(1 EUR = … national currency)
Source: Eurostat (ert_bil_eur_a)

Figure 1c shows the development of the euro against Swedish krona (SEK), Norwegian krone (NOK), Turkish lira (TRY) and Czech koruna (CZK).

The euro appreciated against the Swedish krona over the period 2011–2021, by 12.4 %.

In a similar manner, the euro appreciated by 30.4 % against the Norwegian krone between 2011 and 2021. The euro’s developments against the Norwegian krone followed two distinct stages: the euro depreciated in 2012, followed by eight years of stability or appreciation, and depreciated again in 2021.

Overall, the euro appreciated by 449.7 % against the Turkish lira. There was a regular appreciation of the euro against the Turkish lira, with the euro depreciating slightly in 2012 but appreciating every other year between 2011 and 2021.

The euro appreciated against the Czech koruna by 4.3 % over the period. The koruna had a small overall change in the exchange rate, but fluctuated over the period; The euro appreciated most against the koruna in 2014 (up by 6.0 %), and depreciated most in 2021 (down by 3.1 %).

Figure 1c: Exchange rates against the euro, 2011–2021
(1 EUR = … national currency)
Source: Eurostat (ert_bil_eur_a)

Figure 1d shows the development of the euro against Macedonian denar (MKD), Serbian dinar (RSD), Albanian lek (ALL), Japanese yen (JPY), Icelandic króna (ISK) and Hungarian forint (HUF).

During this period, there was little movement in the exchange rate between the euro and the Macedonian denar with an overall appreciation of the euro of 0.2 %. The Macedonian denar has been pegged (within a range of +/- 1 % of a central rate) against the euro since 2002.

Overall, the euro appreciated by 15.3 % against the Serbian dinar. Developments of the euro against the Serbian dinar followed three stages: after appreciating strongly in 2012 (11.0 %), the euro was stable or appreciating in each of the next four years; this was followed by two years of the euro depreciating slightly against the Serbian dinar in 2017 and 2018, and the rate has since been stable until 2021.

Between 2011 and 2021, a depreciation of the euro was observed against the Albanian lek (12.7 %).

The euro appreciated by 17.1 % against the Japanese yen over the period. The exchange rate fluctuated on a broadly biannual basis over the period, with depreciation of the euro in 2012, appreciation in 2013 and 2014, depreciations in 2015 and 2016, appreciations in 2017 and 2018, depreciations in 2019 and 2020, and appreciation in 2021.

Over the same period (2011–2021), the euro also depreciated against the Icelandic króna (7.0 %).

Among the EU Member States, the euro appreciated most strongly against the Hungarian forint (28.3 %). The large overall appreciation was accumulated over the whole period, as the euro appreciated or remained stable against the forint every year apart from in 2017, when it depreciated slightly (0.7 %).

Figure 1d: Exchange rates against the euro, 2011–2021
(1 EUR = … national currency)
Source: Eurostat (ert_bil_eur_a)

Interest rates

The EU (weighted) average bond yields (see webpage) were lower in 2021 than they had been in 2015, when yields were particularly high in some of the EU Member States (see Figure 2). In the EU, bond yields in 2015 (1.38 %) were 3.5 times as high as in 2021 (0.39 %). The change for the EA was even greater, as bond yields in 2015 (1.21 %) were 17.3 times as high as in 2021 (0.07 %). In absolute terms, bond yields in the EU fell by 0.99 percentage points between 2015 and 2021, while the corresponding change for the EA was a fall of 1.14 points.

Yields fell by more than 2.00 percentage points in five of the 26 EU Member States for which data are available (no 2015 data are available for Estonia) between 2015 and 2021. The largest reductions (in percentage point terms) in bond yields between 2015 and 2020 were recorded for Greece (fell by 8.79 points) and Cyprus (fell by 4.17 points) — both of which were previously heavily impacted by the global financial and economic crisis and subsequent sovereign debt crisis — as high yields fell when the economic and financial situation stabilised.

In most other Member States (17 countries), bond yields fell by 0.73-1.64 points. Bond yields fell by a smaller amount in two Member States: in Sweden, they fell by 0.45 points from 0.72 % in 2015 to 0.27 % in 2021; in Hungary, they fell by 0.37 points from 3.43 % in 2015 to 3.06 % in 2021.

In two Member States, bond yields increased over the period: in Romania, they increased by 0.15 points from 3.47 % in 2015, to 3.62 % in 2021: in Czechia, they increased by 1.32 points from 0.58 % in 2015 to 1.9 % in 2021.

Romania (3.62 %) and Hungary (3.06 %) were the only EU Member States with bond yields that were above 3% in 2021. The next highest yields were in Poland (1.95 %) and Czechia (1.90 %). The remaining 22 Member States (no 2015 data available for Estonia) all had yields below 1.00 %, with eight Member States having negative yields. The largest negative yields were in Germany (-0.37 %), Luxembourg (-0.36 %) and the Netherlands (-0.33 %).

Figure 2: EMU convergence criterion bond yields (Maastricht criterion), 2015 and 2021
Source: Eurostat (tec00097)

Figures 3 and 4 show three-month interbank rates. Money market rates, also known as interbank rates, are interest rates used by banks for operations among themselves. In the money market, banks are able to borrow and re-lend highly liquid assets between themselves.

In the EA, these rates peaked around 2007 or 2008. Thus, Figure 3 shows a time series after they had already fallen at a rapid pace between 2008 and 2010 as the effects of the initial global financial and economic crisis eased. Interbank rates generally continued to fall thereafter, although at a much more moderate pace.

During the period 2012-2016, interbank rates for the EA, the United Kingdom, Japan and the United States were consistently within the range of -1.00 to +1.00 %. This was also the case in Japan and the United Kingdom for the whole of the time series shown in Figure 3, as well as for the EA from 2012 to 2021.

Average short-term interest rates (see webpage) in the EA turned negative (-0.02 %) in 2015 and have remained negative ever since, with the rate in 2021 equal to -0.55 %. By contrast, the United States had an upturn in interbank rates, and rates rose for five consecutive years after 2014, climbing to reach 2.33 % in 2019, before falling sharply in 2020 to 0.64 %, and thereafter falling further to 0.16 % in 2021.

Figure 3: Short-term interest rates — three-month interbank rates (annual average), 2011-2021
Source: Eurostat (tec00035), ECB

Figure 4 shows the same rates in the same markets, but supplemented by information pertaining to all of the other EU Member States that are not in the EA. Although the most substantial falls in money market rates were often recorded in 2009 and 2010, interbank rates were still higher in 2015 (compared with 2021) for around half of these Member States. Nevertheless, Romania, Czechia and Sweden recorded higher rates in 2021 than in 2015.

In the EA, the interbank rate fell from -0.02 % in 2015 to -0.55 % in 2021, while Denmark and Sweden also reported negative rates in both years; Denmark reported a fall from -0.12 % in 2015 to -0.23 % in 2021; Sweden reported a rise from -0.20 % in 2015 to -0.04 % in 2021.

Hungary and Poland both had lower interbank rates in 2021 than in 2015, but the rates remained positive in both years.

Two of the interbank rates were discontinued during the period, and therefore no data for 2021 has been compiled for these; Bulgaria’s (SOFIBOR) was discontinued as of 01.07.2018, and Croatia’s (ZIBOR) was discontinued as of 01.01.2020.

The annual average of three-month interbank rates of Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States all fell over the period. The interbank rates in Japan were just below zero (-0.08 %) in 2021, having been just above zero (0.09 %) in 2015. By contrast, the United Kingdom recorded positive rates in both years, but fell from 0.57 % in 2015 to 0.09 % in 2021. Similarly, rates in the United States also fell over the period but stayed positive, from 0.32 % in 2015, to 0.16 % in 2021.

Figure 4:Short-term interest rates — three-month interbank rates (annual average), 2015 and 2021
Source: Eurostat (tec00035) and (irt_st_m), ECB

Figure 5 shows the euro yield curve between 2011 and 2021 for central government bonds with various years remaining to maturity. Yields were relatively high just before the onset of the financial and economic crisis in 2008 and had already fallen to some extent by 2010 and continued to do so. Bond yields for almost all maturities fell in most years through to a low in 2016 before increasing somewhat in 2017 and stabilising in 2018. However, in 2019 and again in 2020 yields were once more at historic lows for almost all maturities, the only exceptions being for one or two years to maturity. In 2020, bonds with 29 or fewer years to maturity had negative yields while bonds with 30 years to maturity offered a yield of just 0.01 %. This trend shifted rapidly in 2021. In 2021, bonds with 17 or fewer years to maturity had negative yields while bonds with 30 years to maturity offered a yield of 0.15 %.

Figure 5: Euro yield curve, 2011-2021
Source: Eurostat (irt_euryld_a), ECB

Source data for tables and graphs

Data sources

Exchange rates

Eurostat publishes a number of different datasets concerning exchange rates. Two main datasets can be distinguished, with statistics on:

  • bilateral exchange rates between currencies, including some special conversion factors for countries that have adopted the euro;
  • effective exchange rate indices.

Bilateral exchange rates are available with reference to the euro, although before 1999 they were given in relation to the European currency unit (ECU). The ECU ceased to exist on 1 January 1999 when it was replaced by the euro at an exchange rate of 1:1. From that date, the currencies of the EA became subdivisions of the euro at irrevocably fixed rates of conversion.

Daily exchange rates are available from 1974 onwards against a large number of currencies. These daily values are used to construct monthly and annual averages, which are based on business day rates; alternatively, month-end and year-end rates are also published. From 2010 onwards the official rate for the Icelandic króna (ISK) is shown for indicative purposes.

Interest rates

Interest rates provide information on the cost or price of borrowing, or the gain from lending. Traditionally, interest rates are expressed in annual percentage terms, although the period for lending/borrowing can be anything from overnight to a period of many years. Different types of interest rates are distinguished either by the period of lending/borrowing involved, or by the parties involved in the transaction (business, consumers, governments or interbank operations).

Long-term interest rates are one of the convergence criteria for European economic and monetary union (EMU). In order to comply, EU Member States need to demonstrate an average nominal long-term interest rate that does not exceed by more than 2 percentage points that of, at most, the three best-performing Member States. Long-term interest rates are based upon central government bond yields (or comparable securities), taking into account differences in national definitions, on the secondary market, gross of tax, with a residual maturity of around 10 years.

Eurostat also publishes a number of short-term interest rates, with different maturities (overnight, 1 to 12 months). A yield curve, also known as the term structure of interest rates, represents the relationship between market remuneration (interest) rates and the remaining time to maturity of government bonds.


Interest rates, inflation rates and exchange rates are highly linked: the interaction between these economic phenomena is often complicated by a range of additional factors such as levels of government debt, the sentiment of financial markets, terms of trade, political stability, and overall economic performance.

An exchange rate is the price or value of one currency in relation to another. Those countries with relatively stable and low inflation rates tend to display an appreciation in their currencies, as their purchasing power increases relative to other currencies, whereas higher inflation typically leads to a depreciation of the local currency. When the value of one currency appreciates against another, then that country’s exports become more expensive and its imports become cheaper.

Through using a common currency, the countries of the EA have removed bilateral exchange rates and, therefore, benefit from the elimination of currency exchange costs, lower transaction costs and the promotion of trade and investment resulting from the scale of the EA market. Furthermore, the use of a single currency increases price transparency for consumers across the EA.

All economic and monetary union participants are eligible to adopt the euro. Aside from demonstrating two years of exchange rate stability (via membership of ERM II), those EU Member States aiming to join the EA also need to adhere to a number of additional criteria relating to interest rates, budget deficits, inflation rates, and debt-to-GDP ratios.

From 1 January 2002, euro notes and coins entered circulation in the EA, as 12 EU Member States — Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Finland — adopted the euro as their common currency. Slovenia subsequently joined the EA at the start of 2007, and was followed by Cyprus and Malta on 1 January 2008, Slovakia on 1 January 2009, Estonia on 1 January 2011, Latvia on 1 January 2014 and Lithuania on 1 January 2015, bringing the total number of countries using the euro as their common currency to 19.

Central banks seek to exert influence over both inflation and exchange rates, through controlling monetary policy. Their main tool for this purpose is the setting of key interest rates. In joining the euro, each EU Member State agrees to allow the European Central Bank (ECB) to act as an independent authority responsible for maintaining price stability through the implementation of monetary policy. As of 1999, the ECB started to set benchmark interest rates and manage the EA’s foreign exchange reserves. The ECB has defined price stability as a year-on-year increase in the harmonised index of consumer prices (HICP) for the EA below, but close to, 2 % over the medium term (see the article on consumer prices — inflation and comparative price levels). Monetary policy decisions are taken by the ECB’s governing council that meets every six weeks to analyse and assess economic and monetary developments and the risks to price stability and thereafter to decide upon the appropriate level of key interest rates.

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