Universal Multiple-Octet Coded Character Set
(U C S)

Date: 1997-06-23

Title: Proposal for addition of a new character: EURO SIGN

Source: National bodies of Canada, Finland, Iceland, US, the Unicode Consortium and V.S. Umamaheswaran (expert)

Action: For consideration by ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2/WG2

Distribution: ISO/IEC JTC1/SC2 WG2

This contribution is a proposal to add a new character EURO SYMBOL to UCS - ISO/IEC 10646-1: 1993.

The Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) is a follow-on step to the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 signed by several countries in the European Union. The European Monetary Union is a part of the Economic Monetary Union. The EMU is rolled out in multiple stages. Stage 3 is to begin starting 1999-01-01. The European Monetary Institute (EMI) has been established as a predecessor of the European Central Bank, which is to start operations starting 1999-01-01. As part of Stage 3 of EMU, the European Council has approved a new currency called 'EURO' along with a symbol looking approximately as shown below:


By early 1998, the European Parliament will decide on the list of countries who will be participating in EMU. The Euro will be introduced in these countries of EU starting 1999-01-01, as a new currency. At the end of a three-year transition period ending 2002-01-01 the national currency of these countries will be completely replaced with the new Euro, along with new bills and coins.

The new currency will replace the current Ecu as a common monetary unit starting 1999-01-01. However, the Ecu will co-exist, much like the national currencies, for some time after the introduction of the Euro.

Information Technology vendors have been approached to assist the various organizations such as the banks, the financial departments, and the airline and rail industries, to assist in getting them ready for the smooth introduction of the Euro by its starting date. The ability to print the symbols is one of the most important component of it. Ability to use it in printed cheques, printed financial documents, personal accounting reports and so on, involves the ability to have a code position for the Euro symbol at least in the Font Coded Character Sets, and some way of calling out the character from the various applications. Over time, as the Euro gets into daily lives of people, it is expected to appear in day to day correspondences. On IT systems, this will be in the form of e-mail, letters and documents created by office systems, desk top publishing systems, in internet based and other forms of electronic commercial transactions.

ISO/IEC 10646-1 and the Unicode standard contain a symbol called EURO-CURRENCY SIGN at x'20A0'. When looking for a code position for the new Euro sign, the temptation - in the absence of any other code position defined for the Euro in 10646 (and for that matter in most other 8-bit codes in use today) - is to use it also for the new EURO. However, this contribution proposes allocating a new code position for the new EURO SIGN, from the block of CURRENCY SYMBOLS in the BMP The rationale is given below. The current registration for ECU in ISO 4217 (secretariat: SWIFT - Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications) is: European Monetary Cooperation Fund Currency = ECU Alpha code = XEU SWIFT has registered a new currency code for EURO with the Alpha-code of 'EUR'.

The current UCS has a code position x'20A0' assigned to a character called 'EURO-CURRENCY SIGN' with a glyph which looks like an Uppercase C, and an uppercase E, with tail of C aligned with the middle bar of E. It looks approximately as follows:


The symbol originated from the Xerox Coded Character Set contribution to UCS. A similar looking glyph(a C and E together, slightly squared compared to the glyph shown in UCS for x'20A0') has been specified in EN 50067 and in European Broadcasting Union (EBU) Tech.3232-E (2nd Edition, 1982), presumably for displaying the ECU (source: email discussion on -- by Ken Whistler, information on EN 50067 from Monica Stahl, IBM Sweden). It looks approximately as follows:

(Squarized C with E)

The current X'20A0' - even though the standards do not call out as such - can correspond only to the existing ECU, the only European Currency that will be around to speak of till 1999-01-01. The SWIFT has recognized that the ECU is not the same as the EURO, even though the Euro will replace the ECU. The only thing, in retrospect, that can cause confusion is the current name of X'20A0' in the standard. Also, some fonts that have been following the glyphs shown in the current standard, have the current shape for the symbol at X'20A0' - the EURO-CURRENCY SIGN. The new symbol belongs in the block containing other currency signs. Also, the character has been in 10646 with its published glyph for over 4 years, and the standard has to allow for the possibility that it has been used by some application somewhere.

As to the correct shape of the symbol, the European Monetary Institute's official symbol is used. The symbol in gif format has been made available on the web-site, and other sources of the glyph are expected to appear soon.

In order not to impact existing fonts, and permitting applications that may be using the current symbol at x'20A0' (though not necessarily as UCS data with x'20A0' as the data value), it is proposed that a new symbol called 'EURO SIGN' be added to the standard at a new code position in the block of currency symbols.. The suggested code position is x'20AC'.

Also, in order to avoid any potential confusion with the name of existing x'20A0', an explanation should be added to Annex P entry against x'20A0' indicating that it is meant to represent the existing currency unit Ecu (with the currency code of XEU).

A proposal summary form is attached. The following sites give additional information about EMU and the EURO: Association for the monetary union of Europe:

A. Administrative

1. Title EURO SIGN
2. Requester's name Canada, Finland, Iceland, US and the Unicode Consortium
and V. S. Umamaheswaran, IBM Canada Ltd.
3. Requester type Member body, Liaison and Individual contribution
4. Submission date 1997-06-23
5. Requester's reference
6a. Completion This is a complete proposal.
6b. More information to be provided? No

B. Technical -- General

1a. New character? Name? YES 'EURO SIGN'
1b. Addition of characters to existing block? Name? Yes.
2. Number of characters 1
3. Proposed category Category A
4. Proposed level of implementation and rationale Level 1. The proposed character is a single non-combining character.
5a. Character names included in proposal? Yes
5b. Character names in accordance with guidelines? Yes
5c. Character shapes reviewable? Yes
6a. Who will provide computerized font? Regulation typeface will be published by the European Monetary Institute. Otherwise: Michael Everson, Everson Gunn Teoranta
6b. Font currently available? Yes: Michael Everson, Everson Gunn Teoranta
6c. Font format? TrueType
7a. Are references (to other character sets, dictionaries, descriptive texts, etc.) provided? None applicable.
7b. Are published examples (such as samples from newspapers, magazines, or other sources) of use of proposed characters attached? The character will be in use from 1999-01-01.
8. Does the proposal address other aspects of character data processing? No

C. Technical -- Justification

1. Has this proposal for addition of character(s) been submitted before? No
2. Contact with the user community? Yes. The Unicode Technical Committee, e-mail discussions on Unicode list and with members of CEN/TC304
3. Information on the user community? European Union nations. See
4a. The context of use for the proposed characters? Common.
4b. Reference
5a. Proposed characters in current use? No. Slated for introduction starting 1999-01-01 as a shadow currency, with full use starting 2002-01-01.
5b. Where?  
6a. Characters should be encoded entirely in BMP? Yes. Position U+20AC is proposed.
6b. Rationale Will be a popular symbol used in EU nations.
7. Should characters be kept in a continuous range? Not applicable; single character
8a. Can the characters be considered a presentation form of an existing character or character sequence? Yes
8b. Where? Existing U+20A0 is a candidate.
8c. Reference Attached proposal and rationale as to why a new code positionis required.
9a. Can any of the characters be considered to be similar (in appearance or function) to an existing character? Yes
9b. Where? Existing U+20A0 is a candidate.
9c. Reference Attached proposal and rationale as to why a new code positionis required.
10a. Combining characters or use of composite sequences included? No
10b. List of composite sequences and their corresponding glyph images provided? No
11. Characters with any special properties such as control function, etc. included? No

D. SC2/WG2 Administrative

To be completed by SC2/WG2

1. Relevant SC 2/WG 2 document numbers:  
2. Status (list of meeting number and corresponding action or disposition)  
3. Additional contact to user communities, liaison organizations etc.  
4. Assigned category and assigned priority/time frame  
Other Comments