No news is not good news !!
In the beginning...well it was 2012!
Have a read of the old articles. It is interesting to see how things (mostly) have not developed at all!
2015 News Around Andorra archives "16th July 2015 - Never mind the Brexit or Grexit...."
2016 News Around Andorra archives "4th February 2016 - James Bond 007 is back starring the Andorra Head of Government, Antoni Marti in the final epic "The Andorra Referendum"
2017 News Around Andorra archives "22nd February 2017: Football: Andorra v San Marino, statistically the worlds worst teams meet in an epic decider."
2018 News Around Andorra archives "23rd January 2018 - Sexual malfunction crisis in Andorran delegation to EU."
2019 News Around Andorra archives "5th July 2019 - Andorra Roundabout Mayhem."
2020 News Around Andorra archives - The year that COVID changed the landscape.
2021 News Around Andorra archives - COVID continued to reap havoc, but not with the cynical projects
THE HATE MONGERS
There be devils at the gate
Devils who broadcast the seeds of hate
Devils setting brother against brother
Setting son against mother
Few or none are elected
Fewer still are respected
Your gullibility and mine
Provides codeine for their conscience
And a codpiece for their spine.
6 September, 2023, a temporary moratorium on foreign investment approval for properties
Over the past few years Andorra has experienced a considerable increase in earthquakes which most probably has been triggered by the amount of construction and concrete causing downward pressure on the tectonic plates. There is an emergency law being voted on this very afternoon which will come into effect tomorrow to place a moratorium on all new foreign investment applications for property acquisitions. This is a temporary moratorium during which time the relevant government departments are required to come up with proposals in order to tighten foreign investmentbut it is understood that if a deposit and purchase contract have already been finalised on a property development they will not be affected.
In effect what this means is that a non-resident as of today will no longer be able to seek approval to purchase property in Andorra, at least for a temporary period. For those people seeking a property for a residency application then it looks as if the residency will have to come first as once you are a resident there is no need for foreign investment approval. That in itself conjures up difficulties with having to rent a temporary address in order to get residency, a little bit more work to do but eminently doable.
More will be known over the coming weeks, in the meantime, rather than earthquake prevention it is to stop property speculation since off the plan properties have been changing hands prior to completion and other shenanigans endemic to property greed. Whether or not it is an unwelcome interference in market forces as per some of the feedback, what those in power may not realise is that if the accord which is being negotiated with the EU is passed in a referendum the government will have no such powers whatsoever..... Just another thought!!
August 2023 Catalan obligatory exam causing unease.....
The minister Of Culture and Sport has announced the entry into Parliament on 19 September, 2023 of a new law proposal that will require an obligatory basic level of Catalan for renewal of residency permits. Some years ago I did use this is an April Fools' Day joke which caught some people out in a panic,
There is however no need for panic since this apparently refers to the renewal of work permits (unless you have a work permit!) and in no way relates to passive residents or those active with company formation.
There are apparently 3000 residents affected with work permits who will have the choice, once they have ramped up the language centres by four or five more teachers, to either attend a course of 30 lessons or to go straight to an interview. It must be stressed that this is a very basic level.
Most likely these proposals will be pulled apart in the parliamentary process as this is going to cause even more chaos to an immigration that cannot cope with the current requirements. Also local feedback is very much against further aggravating the shortage of labour. It has been reported that the Balearic government has just cancelled all Catalan requirements for medical staff. Currently in Andorra those applying for medical positions in Andorra must have a very high level proficiency in Catalan. There are obvious negative reasons for demanding such a level of Catalan when it is barely spoken in the hospital with the patients. Other feedback appears quite angry that the government is doing so little to alleviate the accommodation availability rather than concentrating on this rather useless area of requirement for foreign workers.
For the moment the subject will remain firmly bedded in Cynics Corner, let us see how the parliamentary process goes and what the final recommendations (if any) are.
July 2023 EU accord, The end of Police Certificates??
One of the areas currently under “negotiation” with the EU in the special accord that Andorra thinks it can “negotiate” is the freedom of movement of people. Now this is a fundamental principle of the EU, and this was made quite clear when the Andorran “negotiators “sat down at the table and demanded that Andorra control who lives in their country and who doesn’t, for example having to produce a police certificate. The EU side immediately pointed out that that is not possible (of course!!) So, Andorra has offered the EU to consider a mere signed declaration, which in fact already is part of the Immigration papers. The reason why I have put negotiate in inverted commas, is that it is well known that the EU does not negotiate it just wants control, and it is quite clear that Andorra is already prepared to hand that over. And it wants control of all the areas of negotiation so that in effect in the future once however many referendums it takes to get the right answer it can just scratch off this great pimple on the bottom of Europe that has been annoying it for so long. ( I´d better put my tin helmet on!)
May 2023... David Cameron gets a mention as Brexit plays on the minds of Government's EU referendum
In his opening address to the new Parliament ministers the head of Government Espot outlined potential issues of the outcome of any referendum and referred to the examples of David Cameron where Espot opines that he was able to "control" the Scottish independence bid but Brexit ending up dooming him ( presumably because he was not able to "control" that referendum). This word "control" conjures up Orwellian undertones and one wonders what "control" will be required for this referendum in what is an enthusiastic pro EU Government, I have not received such enthusiasm in recent casual conversations with José Publico. I suppose at some stage the "control" will be forthcoming and as Espot pointed out this is not a 4 year term for a yes vote but a 50 year determination of the economic and social life here. Perhaps that is an admission that "control" will pass to Bristles, after all Bristles is all about control, and not toleration of the people of a micro mountain state, that has enjoyed neutrality and non interference for over 1300 years.....(Quote 2016).
April 2023 Arinsal, the petition and the function of the Comú
The online signature petition has seen almost 2000 signatures voicing their support to what would be a 32,000 m² building project right underneath the cable car at the base of Arinsal and opposite to the old historic centre of Arinsal. This would in effect virtually treble the population of Arinsal at a time when the whole of Andorra seem to be tiring of these what appear to be uncontrolled developments turning the mountains into concrete. What is more worrying is that the response from the Comú was in effect that there is nothing they can do if the plans comply with building requirements. That has led people to comment as to what is the Comú's function? Whereas in most countries building permissions include feedback and often hearings from concerned parties such as Joe public, this is not seen to be the case in Andorra. Perhaps as it is election year that is something these politicians can look at because clearly the tide of opinion is growing against construction companies. The central government and some Comús have recently imposed new restrictions and building moratoriums but it seems every person and his dog shoved in their applications before the deadline which should see the construction industry cement over the rest of the country before we either run out of fields or run out of cement.
21 March 2023 - Now there are smart urinals
It was proudly announced that Andorra had received the first in the world ever smart urinal that can measure hydration and volume of urine, and here is a picture. It may be the first and the last in the world, as, as some people have commented, a mere look at your wee will determine what this "smart" urinal is designed for, a bit like smart scales that tell you you are fat. The problem with severe dehydration is actually an inability to wee which sounds pretty self defeating. It also sounds rather a sexist invention for obvious reasons so stick with those "dumb" urinals and use your loaf (no pun intended). However, it could be useful in a the loo of a bar where the "smart" analysis simply says you need to drink more, so get back to the bar.
1st April 2023 Carns a la Brasa to be banned...
From 1st January 2024 restaurants will no longer be allowed to operate open fires to cook the traditional meat dish Carns a la Brasa. This is part of the drive to make Andorra carbon neutral by 2030. The chairman of Andorra Restaurant Association called the decision outrageous but admitted that the emissions from chimneys may be the reason for the melting snows. He added that there were probably enough alternatives to satisfy customers such as salads and soups. Farmers have also been advised that emissions from cows need to be controlled and that similar to tobacco quotas, there will be cow herd quotas. In any case with the impending ban on restaurants cooking meat, the farmers fear for the future after 950 years of Andorran valley grazing.
March 2023, The EU referendum, what on earth would happen if Andorra voted no??
The government has decided to commit itself to a study of what on earth would happen in the event that the Andorran population voted no in the referendum that they have promised on this association/accord which is being negotiated by Brussels and the micro-states. Andorra politicians need to understand that if the EU has anything to say on this matter we will simply be told to vote again until they get the answer that they want, it's as simple as that no need for a study!!!
March 2023 La Massana bypass, casino, it's all happening….
The La Massana bypass has been a dream in the planning stage since the early 2000s, only beaten in history by plans for a casino which have their roots way back in the 1980s. Unfortunately the casino is now open but the bypass isn't. For an update on the casino please refer to the dedicated page here. For those enthusiasts who are desperately waiting for the La Massana bypass it is now back on the agenda although take it with a pinch of salt because it is election year. La Massana has found a way to what was the initial budget of EUR62 million down to a mere EUR20 million by ignoring the old plans which would have involved linking the large Anyós roundabout with tunnels and bridges and just cutting down near to where the petrol station is at the top of the hill up to La Massana. to the river valley below. All they need to do is convince all of those landowners in the La Massana Valley, get the funding and hey presto we have a new route to Arinsal and Ordino. Having been over 20 years in the planning and being put off it is now as we all know an absolute necessity for the relief of traffic in La Massana.
October 2022 Andorra's population to hit 3.3 million according to Government statistics...
So who has been paid to dream this one up? Whilst funding for the La Massana bypass is delayed, the Government deems this to be a financialy justifiable statistic, and if, God forbid, it were to happen then we would be looking at about 35 La Massana bypasses. With an 80,000 population Andorra is almost at a standstill at rush hours, imagine queuing for 3 days to get to the ski slopes where you would only be allowed to stand still on for 15 minutes; waiting for 2 weeks for a place on a bus that never moves anyway; fighting for the last baguette, I mean the whole statistic is a complete joke but April 1st it is not. Quite seriously the Goverment report states that if the urban development is properly controlled in terms of infrastucture, electricty, water etc then this 3.3m population would be the maximum scenario. Well let`s hope it is not properly controlled and that Government departments have more important issues at hand! STOP PRESS, China's population to hit 1,732,846,345, 901 under the same guidelines ( Yes, that is 1 trillion!!), but there again 72% of statistics are made up on the spot.....
27th August 2022 The proposed heliport at PAL Update!
The Andorra heliport has been proposed during its planning history to be built in various parts of Andorra, Patapou, Encamp, Sant Julia to name but a few locations that were actively considered. Due to local resident pressure these locations were quietly dropped and, in some cases, various technical studies were involved at whatever cost to whoever. It seems by placing the heliport at PAL there is no one up there to complain although judging by comments in the papers people are voicing strong feelings over this proposed location and the effect on the local fauna and flora. The original idea of a heliport for Andorra was to enable a scheduled helicopter route from Andorra to Barcelona in a similar fashion that Monaco enjoys from Nice, which with 50 scheduled flights per day every 15 minutes can cost as little as EUR130 including a chauffeur driven limousine to your destination on arrival.
But back to Pal, and the planned cable car from Andorra La Vella via the Pic de Carroi to Pal has now been shelved indefinitely (that is a very different story please do have a read), also the original plan to include a hotel at the top of PAL is also not going ahead. The planning committee are claiming that the more detailed construction plans are still going ahead, and any investor will require 7 to 9 EUR million to set up the infrastructure, and to date to my knowledge there have been no nibbles (and nibbles is not the name of the heliport cat). It is interesting to note that back in 2016 the infrastructure costs for Encamp Heliport were proposed to be 1.5 EUR million.
Given the exposure to the elements, the isolated location at the top of PAL, the lack of access infrastructure, one wonders what exactly the purpose of this heliport would be given that a scheduled service as originally planned is not going to happen from such a location. It cannot be used for medical emergencies, that is all set up from the landing pad on the hospital. It will not be used for police or military as there aren’t any. Forestry Commission and other chartered services are currently dealt with by Heliland in La Massana who also offer tourist flights. Some newspaper comments have reminded us that elections are not too far away, and these infrastructure schemes do come to prominence at suitable times. Watch this space!!!
18 August, 2022 Post Covid blues but the usual suspects are still performing….
I use the same apology as most global institutions and that delays in updates are due to post Covid lockdowns. It seems though that the Covid lockdowns have not had any material effect on the cynicism associated with the permanent demise of the cable car from Andorra La Vella to the new heliport at PAL; This new heliport at PAL now has no tenders for its construction; there are delays to the opening of the new casino; Andorra La Seu airport sole schedule running at 50% capacity and not without its own problems; Andorra construction continues with its unsustainability and exclusivity policy. There are other subjects that deserve a mention such as Andrail ( Coming soon similar to the Airport at Grau Roig) and will be posted shortly on this very page.
April 1st 2022 Andorra bows to international tensions and will form a National Defence Force...
Since Andorra has been listed by Moscow as a hostile country with the raft of sanctions against named Russian individuals and following the recent failed application by Andorra to join NATO because of no standing army, the Government has proposed to form a National Defence Force “Guardia Militaria” and re-apply. The Ministry of the Interior has confirmed that initially this will take the form of 12-month conscriptions for those aged 18 to 55. Financing has been agreed in principle for 2 personnel carriers and the construction of a barracks near Auvinyà. The spokesman also confirmed that the conscriptions will apply to all residents and citizens alike, whether passive or active stating that the wealth of international culture and experience that passive and active residents could bring to the table would benefit greatly for the plans and training for a National Defence Force. NATO has promised to re-examine the application from Andorra to join once the military infrastructure is in place. A Government source said that after almost 950 years of neutrality it is time for Andorra to face up to global issues and play its part in the security of Europe.
Unfortunately this was voted down in Parliament at 12.01 on 1st April 2022
Hats off to Olga Molné the mayor of La Massana for closing the dump at the top of Anyos !!
Andorra's attempt to raise the average height of the country to tackle rising sea levels is coming to an end, The mayor of La Massana has announced that the dump (earth spoil and rocks) that has been in use since 2007 will close by the end of June this year. Hoorahhh for the long suffering residents that have endured day after day of over 180 lorries belching their way up such a beautiful forested area. Unfortunately this has put the hump on local developers who claim that 41 developments will have to stop until a new dump location can be found. It remains to be seen how much pressure will be brought onto La Massana Mayor and decision makers to either delay the closure or agree to a new location. We all pray that La Massana will not back down. On the downside the beautiful fields on the road to Arinsal where the deer used to roam by the Borda Raubert Restaurant will become industrial warehouses, and yes to access the warehouses the lorries will need to trundle through La Massana, already a nightmare for traffic in the absence of the postponed bypass. Perhaps all of the developers should be charged a bypass tax to get this done.
17th January 2022 Would you volunteer to pay a tax?
Someone in Government has estimated that there may be 5,000 apartments here in Andorra that have remained empty and unused for 2 years or more and in a valiant effort to relieve the rental market shortage the Government passed a law in 2019 requiring owners who have not used their premises for 2 years or more to declare that it is empty and pay an "empty tax". All of the apartment owners were given until the 31st December 2021 to comply. Well, so far since this law was introduced a grand total of 14 apartments have been declared (which means that the owner incurs and agrees to a standard empty tax of 5.05 EUR per square metre). The results which were expected to fill the Government coffers are so disappointing that the Ministry of Finance has described them as "disappointing". Given that holiday homes and the like are exempted it beggars belief if anyone at all would volunteer to pay the Government anything at all. Perhaps this needs a rethink, and maybe include those with a garden who have not mowed the lawn for 6 months (Artificial turf exempted), or those who have a bird fountain that has not attracted any feathered friends for the past 3 months (Tits exempted).....Nuff said..