Andorra and the euro
Andorra has a monetary agreement with the EU allowing it to make the euro its official currency, and permitting it to issue euro coins as early as 1 July 2013. They plan to issue their first coins on 1 January 2014.
Andorra did not have an official currency prior to adopting the euro, and unlike its two larger neighbours, France and Spain, which surround it, it is not a member of the EU. However it de facto used the EU's euro (the currency of the Eurozone states) as it had historically used the French franc and Spanish peseta. When those two currencies were replaced by the euro in 2002, the euro replaced the franc and peseta as the sole circulating currency in Andorra.
Three other European microstates outside of the EU, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican City, also faced this situation but they, unlike Andorra, concluded agreements with the EU for the right to mint their own euro coins. Euro coins have a common design on one side, and a national-specific side on the other. Hence those three microstates could design their own national side, mint and distribute their own coins. As with coins minted in other eurozone states, the microstate coins are valid across the eurozone; however they do not gain representation on the euro's governing bodies, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Eurogroup.
In 2003, Andorra requested the right to mint its own coins and the following year the Council of the European Union adopted its negotiating position with Andorra. Following Andorra's agreement to abide by Council Directive 2003/48/EC on taxation of savings income in the form of interest payments, the Commission recommended opening negotiations. Negotiations were expected to be concluded by 2008, but were repeatedly stalled due in part been to poor relations stemming from Andorra's tax haven status. A monetary agreement was eventually agreed to by Andorra and the EU in February 2011, and the agreement was signed on 30 June 2011. After the agreement came into force on 1 April 2012, the euro became Andorra's official currency. Andorra will be permitted to issue up to 2.4 million euro coins from 1 July 2013 onwards provided that it complies with the agreement's terms.
In October 2012, Jordi Cinca, Andorra's Minister of Finance, stated that 1 January 2014 was a more likely date to start issuing euros due to delays in adopting the legislation required by the monetary agreement. In February 2013, the Director of the Mint of Andorra Jordi Puigdemasa confirmed that Andorra would not begin issuing euros until 1 January 2014.
A design competition for the national side of the euro coins was launched in March 2013, with a deadline of 16 April. The winning designs were announced on May 16 and depict a pyrenean chamois on the 1, 2 and 5 cent pieces, the Church of Santa Coloma and a depiction of Christ from the church Sant Martí de la Cortinada on the 10, 20, and 50 cent pieces, and Casa de la Vall on the 1 euro piece. The government had previously decided that the Coat of arms of Andorra would be featured on the 2 euro piece. Final approval of the coins is expected in late June, at which point they will be forwarded to the EU for their consent. In August, a spokesperson for Cinca confirmed that the design of the 10, 20 and 50 cent pieces had been modified to remove the depiction of Christ due to objections from the European Commission on the grounds of religious neutrality.
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