3. Legal Regime
Transparency of the Regulatory System
The Government set out transparent policies and laws, which have significantly liberalized all economic sectors in Andorra. New, foreign-owned businesses have to be approved by the government, and the process can take up to a month. The Government is committed to a transparent process. Andorra has begun to relax labor and immigration standards; previously, foreign professionals had to establish 20 years of residency before being eligible to own 100 percent of their business in Andorra. This restriction has been lifted for nationals coming from countries that have reciprocal standards for Andorran citizens.
Following approval of the new Accounting Law in 2007, individuals carrying out business or professional activities, trading companies, and legal persons or entities with a profit purpose must file financial statements with the administration.
International Regulatory Considerations
Although not a member of the European Union (EU), Andorra, as a member of the European Customs Union, is subject to all EU free trade regulations and arrangements with regard to industrial products. Concerning agriculture, the EU allows duty free importation of products originating in Andorra.
Andorra is negotiating a new association agreement with the European Union that will allow Andorrans to establish themselves in Europe and Andorran companies will be able to trade in the EU market.
Although the Government took some steps in the past to become a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO); Andorra currently holds observer status in the WTO. Andorra has applied for membership in the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Its process of adhesion is ongoing.
Legal System and Judicial Independence
Andorra has a mixed legal system of civil and customary law with the influence of canon law. The judiciary is independent from the executive branch. The Supreme Court consists of a court president and eight judges, organized into civil, criminal, and administrative chambers; four magistrates make up the Constitutional Court. The Tribunal of Judges and the Tribunal of the Courts are lower courts. Regulations and enforcement actions can be appealed in the national court system.
Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment
The Law on Foreign Investment (10/2012) entered into force in 2012, opening the country’s economy by removing the sectorial restrictions stipulated in the prior legislation. In this way, Andorra has positioned itself on equal terms with neighboring economies, enabling it to become more competitive for new sectors and enterprises.
ACTUA is responsible for economic promotion and provides relevant laws, rules, procedures, and reporting requirements to investors.
Competition and Anti-Trust Laws
The Law on Effective Competence and Consumer Protection (13/2013) protects investors against unfair practices. The Ministry of Economy is responsible for administering anti-trust laws and reviews transactions for competition-related concerns (whether domestic or international in nature).
Expropriation and Compensation
The Law of Expropriation (1993) allows the Government to expropriate private property for public purposes in accordance with international norms, including appropriate compensation. We know of no incidents of expropriation involving the U.S. entities in Andorra.
Andorran legislation establishes mechanisms to resolve disputes if they arise and its judicial system is transparent. The Constitution guarantees an independent judiciary branch, overseen by a High Council of Justice. The prosecution system allows for successive appeals to higher courts. The European Court of Justice is the ultimate arbiter of unsettled appeals.
Andorra became a party to the New York Convention of 1958 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards in September 2015, requiring Andorran courts to enforce financial awards. Andorra is not a member of the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).
Parties to a dispute can also resolve disputes contractually through international arbitration. Contractual disputes between U.S. individuals or companies and Andorran entities are rare, but when they arise are handled appropriately. There have been no reported cases of U.S. investment disputes.
Andorra’s Bankruptcy decree dates to 1969. Other laws from 2008 and 2014 complement the initial text and further protect workers’ rights to fair salaries as well set up mechanisms to monitor the implementation of judicial resolutions. Additionally, Law 8/2015 outlines urgent measures allowing Government intervention of the banking sector in a crisis.
Andorra’s laws penalize corruption, money laundering, drug trafficking, hostage taking, sale of illegal arms, prostitution, terrorism, as well as the financing of terrorism. Additional amendments were added in 2008, 2014, 2015, and 2016 to the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code that modify and introduce money laundering and terrorism financing provisions.
In 1994, Andorra joined the Council of Europe, an institution that oversees the defense of democracy, the rule of law, and human rights. That same year, the Justice Ministers of the Member States decided to fight corruption at the European level after considering that the phenomenon posed a serious threat to the stability of democratic institutions.
In early 2005, Andorra joined the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and, consequently, the fight against corruption. The Government has gradually built its internal regulations and relevant legal instruments and has undertaken numerous initiatives to improve the State’s response to reprehensible acts and conduct committed internally and internationally.
The Government created the Unit for the Prevention and the Fight against Corruption (UPLC) in 2008 to centralize and coordinate actions that might concern local administrations, national bodies, and entities with an international scope. UPLC is in charge of implementing the recommendations made by GRECO in the framework of periodic evaluation reports.
Andorra has not signed the UN Anticorruption Convention or the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.
There are explicitly defined rules for the ethical behavior of all participating bodies within the Andorran financial system. The Andorran Financial Authority (AFAINAF) has also established rules regarding ethical behavior in the financial system.
The Andorran government modified and implemented new laws in order to comply with international corruption standards. The Andorran Financial Intelligence Unit (UIFAND) was created in 2000 as an independent body charged with mitigating money laundering and terrorist funding (www.uifand.ad ).
Resources to Report Corruption:
Unitat de Prevencio i Lluita contra la Corrupcio
Ministeri d’Afers Socials, Justicia i Interior
Ctra.de l’Obac s/n
Phone: +376 875 700