Freedom in the World
Freedom Rating (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Andorra worked to clear its name as a tax haven in 2010 by cooperating in financial fraud investigations with a number of other European countries. In order to comply with European Union tax requirements, the government in December adopted legislation imposing direct taxes for the first time and also introduced new business transparency procedures.
As a co-principality, Andorra was ruled for centuries by the French head of state and the bishop of Seu d’Urgel, Spain. The 1993 constitution retained the titular co-princes but transformed the government into a parliamentary democracy. Andorra joined the United Nations that year and the Council of Europe in 1994. While Andorra is not a member of the European Union (EU), the country adopted the euro currency in 2002.
The April 2009 national elections brought the Social Democratic Party to power with 14 out of the 28 seats in the Consell General, or parliament. The Reformist Coalition—which included the incumbent Liberal Party of Andorra—won 11 seats and the remaining 3 seats were taken by Andorra for Change. Jaume Bartumeu of the Social Democratic Party replaced Albert Pintat Santolària as the Cap de Govern (Head of Government) in June.
The Pintat government’s implementation of banking reforms as required by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) led to Andorra’s removal from the OECD “gray list” in April 2009. Following cooperation agreements signed in September 2009 with neighboring France and Spain on international fraud investigations, Andorra signed additional agreements with 17 countries in February 2010 to provide greater banking transparency. Despite these improvements, requirements for banking details remain quite strict.
In 2010, Andorran companies were required to publish their accounts, allowing Andorra to assess its actual gross domestic product (GDP) for the first time. The government also adopted three laws on direct taxes for the first time in December 2010, including a tax on corporate profits and a 4.5 percent sales tax. These changes meet the EU’s minimum tax requirements.
Political Rights and Civil Liberties:
Andorra is an electoral democracy. Popular elections are held every four years to the 28-member Consell General, which selects the executive council president, or head of government. Half of the members are chosen in two-seat constituencies known as parishes, and the other half are chosen through a national system of proportional representation.
The people have the right to establish and join different political parties. However, more than 60 percent of the population consists of noncitizens who do not have the right to vote.
Freedom of speech is respected across the country. There are two independent daily newspapers (Diari d’Andorra and El Periòdic d'Andorra), and residents have access to broadcasts from neighboring France and Spain. Internet access is unrestricted.
Although the constitution recognizes the state’s special relationship with the Roman Catholic Church, the government no longer subsidizes the Church. Religious minorities like Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are free to seek converts. Despite years of negotiations between the Muslim community and the government, a proper mosque for the country’s roughly 2,000 Muslims has still not been built. While requests to convert public buildings or former churches for this purpose have been denied, the government does provide the Muslim community with public facilities for various religious functions. Academic freedom is respected.
Freedoms of assembly and association are generally respected, and domestic and international human rights organizations operate freely. While the government recognizes that both workers and employers have the right to defend their interests, the right to strike is not legally guaranteed. There are also no laws in place to penalize antiunion discrimination or regulate collective bargaining. Few advances have been made in labor rights since the creation of a registry for associations in 2001, which enabled trade unions to gain legal recognition. In 2009, the government passed a law that guarantees unions the right to operate.
The judicial system, which is based on Spanish and French civil codes, does not include the power of judicial review of legislative acts. Police can detain suspects for up to 48 hours without charging them. Prison conditions meet international standards.
Under Andorra’s restrictive naturalization criteria, one must marry a resident Andorran or live in the country for more than 20 years to qualify for citizenship. Prospective citizens are also required to learn Catalan, the national language. Although they do not have the right to vote, noncitizen residents receive most of the social and economic benefits of citizenship.
Immigrant workers, primarily from North Africa, complain that they lack the rights of citizens. Nearly 7,000 such immigrants have legal status, but many hold only “temporary work authorizations.” Temporary workers are in a precarious position, as they must leave the country when their job contract expires.
Citizens have the right to own property. Legislation passed in 2008 fully opened up 200 key economic sectors to foreign investment. This law also gives noncitizens the right to hold up to 49 percent capital in other established sectors.
Women enjoy the same legal rights as men. In the 2009 parliamentary elections, women took 10 out of 28 seats.There are no specific laws addressing violence against women, which remains a problem. There are no government departments for women’s issues or government-run shelters for battered women. Abortion is illegal, except to save the life of the mother.