Freedom in the World
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Freedom Rating (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
The standoff between the Andorran government and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) continued in 2002, with Andorra remaining on the OECD's blacklist of tax havens with 'prejudicial' tax practices. Negotiations with the European Union (EU) over the issue of Andorra's taxation policy also remained unresolved.
For more than 700 years, Andorra was ruled jointly by the French state and the Spanish bishops of Seo de Urgel, until it acquired independence and adopted its first written constitution in 1993. The constitution defines Andorra as a "parliamentary co-principality" in which the president of France and the bishop of Seo de Urgel serve as co-princes, heads of state with limited and largely symbolic power. Sovereignty rests with Andorra's citizens. In March 2001, Andorra held general elections, in which Marc Forne of the Liberal Party of Andorra (PLA) was reelected as the head of government. The PLA acquired 15 of the 28 Consell General (parliament) seats; the Social Democratic Party (PSD), 6; the Democratic Party, 5; and the Unio Laurediana Party, 2.
Andorra has no national currency, but circulates Spanish pesetas and French francs. By virtue of its association with Spain and France, it has also adopted the euro despite not being a member of the European Monetary Union. In 1991, Andorra established a customs union with the European Union (EU) that permits free movement of industrial goods. Andorra became a member of the United Nations in 1993 and a member of the Council of Europe in 1994. A Trilateral Treaty on free movement of labor between Andorra, France and Spain is due to go into effect in early 2003.
With the creation of the EU internal market, Andorra has lost its privileged duty-free status. Tourism, the mainstay of Andorra's economy, accounts for about 90 percent of gross domestic product. Because of banking secrecy laws and Andorra's tax haven status, the financial services sector is of growing importance to the economy. However, the threat of economic sanctions arising from being blacklisted by the OECD could reduce Andorra's attractiveness as a site for foreign investment.
Andorrans can change their government democratically. The March 2001 elections, in which 81.6 percent of eligible voters took part, chose members of the Consell General, which selects the head of government. Popular elections to the 28-member Consell are held every 4 years, with 14 members chosen by the national constituency and 14 chosen to represent the seven parishes, or administrative divisions.
The judiciary, based on the French and Spanish civil codes, is independent and efficient, and citizens enjoy full due process rights. The national police force is under civilian control, and generally respect the rights of citizens.
Freedoms of speech and the press are guaranteed in law and in practice. The domestic press consists of two daily and several weekly newspapers. Andorra has two radio stations, one state-owned and one privately owned, and six television stations. Most French and Spanish stations can be received in Andorra.
There are no limitations on domestic or foreign travel, emigration, or repatriation. Andorra does not expel persons with valid claims to refugee status, and cooperates with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees.
Freedom of religion is respected. Catholicism is the predominant religion and the Constitution acknowledges a special relationship with the Roman Catholic Church; however, the Church no longer receives subsidies from the government. According to the U. S. Department of State's 2002 report on International Religious Freedom, foreign missionaries are able to "operate without restriction."
The constitution recognizes the right of all workers to form unions, but the legislation required to implement this provision does not yet exist. Nevertheless, a number of associations have registered with the government. Some immigrant workers complained that despite legal protections, they were not given the same labor rights and security as citizens.
Women enjoy the same legal, political, social, and professional rights as men, although they are underrepresented in government. Of the 28 members of the Consell General, only 4 are women. Violence against women remains a problem, as does discrimination against women in the workplace. The Association of Andorran Women actively promotes women's issues through education and outreach programs.