Monegasque Minister of State Pierre Dartout was in Andorra last week for an official visit that aimed to cement the ties between two of Europe’s smallest nations as well as discuss their complex parallel negotiations with the EU.
Monaco and Andorra have much in common. Both are seen as European microstates with interesting tax systems that make them incredibly attractive places to be. They are also both long-standing principalities, with certain autonomies and unique places within the European system.
On 2nd and 3rd March, Pierre Dartout, the Principality’s Minister of State, made an official visit to Andorra and was welcomed there by Head of Government Xavier Espot Zamora. The trip came on the heels of the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two states last year, which focused on friendship, cooperation and a bilateral tax agreement.
During their meeting, Dartout and Zamora spoke notably on the efforts being made to deepen ties, notably in the realms of education digital technology, cybercrime prevention and tourism. Additionally, they highlighted ongoing mutual schemes, including the fight against malnutrition in Madagascar, which they have co-supported since 2009.
“Our co-financing allows us to support high-impact operations to improve the living conditions of the most vulnerable people,” said Dartout on the subject.
One major topic touched on involved the continuing talks both nations have with the European Union to normalise their status, not as full Member States, but as what’s being termed “Associate States”, which will allow their respective autonomies to continue, but will also provide certain frameworks and protection for all sides.
At a joint press conference, Dartout raised the question of approval from Monegasque citizens on this style of status and called for an impact study to be conducted. Zamora agreed to an extent, but countered: “Sometimes, another aspect must be taken into account, which is what would happen or what will happen to our countries if we say no to the association agreement with the European Union.”
Dartout continued, “We have in common this desire to preserve our specificities. We do not wish to become a Member State, but an Associated State of the European Union. Like Andorra, we must have these differences recognised, which are the result of our history and our geography, and which are our strength.”
At the end of the press conference, Dartout summed up what seems to have been a mostly successful exchange, saying, “Coordination, confidence and cooperation… These ‘3 Cs’ sum up the spirit of our bilateral exchanges.”
The Minister was accompanied by Isabelle Berro-Amadeï, Government Counsellor-Minister of External Relations and Cooperation, and Isabelle Costa, High Commissioner for European Affairs. Monaco’s Véronique Campan, Technical Advisor in charge of the Europe Unit, was also in attendance.
Photo source: Monaco Communications Department