The Maastricht Criteria

The Maastricht Treaty stipulates five criteria that countries must meet to become eligible for the single European currency, the euro. These criteria must be achieved over the year before the date of examination.
1. Price Stability (inflation)

To qualify, a country's inflation rate must not exceed the average inflation rate of the three best performing Member States by more than 1-1/2 percent. (Inflation is measured by means of the consumer price index.)

2. Fiscal Prudence - annual deficit

To qualify, a country must not exceed 3% for the ratio of the planned or actual government deficit to GDP;

3. Fiscal Prudence - total debt

To qualify, a country must not exceed 60% for the ratio of government debt to GDP.

4. Successful EMS Membership

To qualify, a country must have stayed within the normal fluctuation margins provided for by the Exchange Rate Mechanism of the European Monetary System, for at least two years, without devaluing against the currency of any other Member State. Most countries have agreed to a 15% margin within ERM 2.

5. Interest-Rate Convergence

To qualify, the durability of convergence must be reflected in the long-term interest rate levels. A Member State must have had 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 in terms of price stability. (Interest rates are measured on the basis of long term government bonds or comparable securities.