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Economic and Monetary Union was the process by which participating member states of the European Union adopted a single currency and a single monetary system. It consisted of three stages. Stage One, which began in 1990, removed all restrictions on the movement of capital between member states. Stage Two, which began in 1994, set up the European Monetary Institute which coordinated efforts to create a unified monetary policy and a unified central bank. It also set up the Stability and Growth Pact on budgetary discipline, conducted preliminary work on euro notes and coins, launched the European Central Bank (ECB) in 1998 and conducted the preparations for the setting of the conversion rates at which member states' currencies would join the euro. Stage Three, which began in 1999, was the fixing of currency conversion rates and the launch of the euro as the EU's unit of account. Euro notes and coins were introduced in 2002.
See also: http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/emu_history/index_en.htm