PE&RS February 2015 - page 95

February 2015
ndorra is the last independent survivor
of the March states, a number of buffer
states created by Charlemagne to keep
the Muslim Moors from advancing into Christian
France. Tradition holds that Charlemagne granted
a charter to the Andorran people in return for their
fighting the Moors. In the 800s, Charlemagne’s
grandson, Charles the Bald, made Count of Urgell
overlord of Andorra. A descendant of the count later
gave the lands to the diocese of Urgell, headed by
Bishop of Seu d’Urgell. In the 11
century, fearing
military action by neighboring lords, the bishop
placed himself under the protection of the Lord of
Caboet, a Spanish nobleman. Later, the Count of
Foix, a French noble, became heir to Lord Caboet
through marriage, and a dispute arose between the
French Count and the Spanish bishop over Andorra.
In 1278, the conflict was resolved by the signing of a
pareage, which provided that Andorra’s sovereignty
be shared between the Count of Foix and the Bishop
of Seu d’Urgell of Spain. The pareage, a feudal
institution recognizing the principle of equality of
rights shared by two rulers, gave the small state its
territory and political form. Over the years, the title
was passed between French and Spanish rule until,
in the reign of the French King Henry IV, an edict
in 1607 established the head of the French state
and the Bishop of Urgell as co-princes of Andorra.
Given its relative isolation, Andorra has existed
outside the mainstream of European history, with
few ties to countries other than France and Spain. In
recent times, however, its thriving tourist industry
along with developments in transportation and
communications have removed the country from
its isolation.
“There has been a redefinition of the qualifications for
Andorran citizenship, a major issue in a country where only
35.7% of 78,549 are legal citizens. In 1995, a law to broaden
citizenship was passed but citizenship remains hard to
acquire, with only Andorran nationals being able to transmit
citizenship automatically to their children. Lawful residents
in Andorra may obtain citizenship after 25 years of residence.
Children of residents may opt for Andorran citizenship after
18 if they have resided virtually all of their lives in Andorra.
Mere birth on Andorran soil does not confer citizenship. Dual
nationality is not permitted. Non-citizens are allowed to own
only a 33% share of a company. Only after they have resided
in the country for 20 years, will they be entitled to own
100% of a company. A proposed law to reduce the necessary
years from 20 to 10 is pending approval in Parliament. By
creating a modern legal framework for the country, the
1993 constitution has allowed Andorra to begin a shift from
an economy based largely on tax-free shopping to one based
on tourism and international banking and finance. Despite
promising new changes, it is likely that Andorra will, at least
for the short term, continue to confront a number of difficult
issues arising from the large influx of foreign residents and
the need to develop modern social and political institutions. In
addition to questions of Andorran nationality and immigration
policy, other priority issues will include dealing with housing
scarcities and speculation in real state, developing the tourist
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