Impact studies of the Andorra- EU association agreement

The association agreement currently being negotiated between the Principality of Andorra and the European Union (EU) is of a structural nature. Thus, its impact on the Andorran economy and society is expected to be significant, transversal (in multiple areas and sectors), dynamic (it will fluctuate and evolve over time) and to occur in different directions (from required adaptations —with associated costs— to the opening of new business opportunities in high value-added sectors).

Being able to have a map as complete and clear as possible of all these impacts has a triple interest:

  • On the one hand, it will allow the different actors in Andorran society to anticipate and better prepare for the implementation of the agreement, in the event that it is eventually adopted. What budget must the administrations provide in order to be able to deal with the implementation of the agreement? What changes should they start programming? What are the main opportunities in sector X? How have they benefited in other economies?
  • Secondly, it will allow the public to have key data to be able to form an informed opinion on the suitability or not of the agreement to be negotiated. Given that the approval of the text will be submitted to a referendum, it is essential that the vote polled by citizens can be based on rigorous information and as complete and clear as possible on a key issue such as the expected impacts of this policy. Similarly, once the agreement (if any) begins to take effect, it will be of great interest to both the institutions and civil society to be able to monitor the effective impacts arising from the implementation of the agreement.
  • Finally, beyond the social utility of the project within the borders of Andorra, the study will also serve to incorporate a new case study into the existing corpus of knowledge on European integration, an interesting case study in the field of the Comparative Politics because of the particularities of the actor seeking to associate (a microstate), the type of agreement (a significant degree of association but far from full membership), the type of negotiation and the historic moment when this negociation is taking place (integration in times of disengagement and Euroscepticism).

It is important to emphasize that the analysis of the impact of an association agreement between Andorra and the EU is a living project, which by the nature of the object analyzed (the outcomes of an agreement currently being negotiated) it will be developed over a minimum of five years and will have two very differentiated phases: a first (coinciding in time with the negotiation of the text), focused on forecasting impacts; and a second (which will begin as soon as the agreement begins to be implemented, if approved), focusing on the analysis of effective impacts.

Regarding the objectives of the project, we can highlight the following:

Phase 1:

  • Identify the different types of costs that the association can generate
  • Evaluate the cost forecast made by the actors concerned by the association
  • Collect, categorize and integrate all anticipated costs
  • Quantify all quantifiable costs
  • Collect, make visible and assess intangible costs
  • Compare costs with expected costs in other scenarios (without an association agreement)
  • Compare costs with costs actually generated in states with similar degrees of integration 
  • Compare costs with the expected costs in other candidate countries for association with the EU
  • Develop an integrated cost map, with a complete, accurate, visual and searchable description based on multiple parameters
  • Identify the advantages and opportunities that association with the EU can generate
  • Analyze how, in States with similar degrees of integration, opportunities such as those opened by the Andorra-EU partnership agreement have been materialized
  • Construct hypotheses about how far the opportunities opened by the association agreement will be developed (with forks of plausible use intervals)
  • Compare the opportunities generated with alternative scenarios (without an association agreement)
  • Collect, make visible and value the intangible and non-quantifiable advantages of an association with the EU

Phase 2:

  • Define a system of indicators for monitoring the impacts of the association agreement on Andorran society and economy
  • Build a continuous system of populating the databases with impact tracking
  • Analyze the impacts periodically and in an integrated way

With regard to the methodology used, we will start from the definition of a set of indicators, which will be fed from data obtained by triangulation between interviews with technicians and commanders of the institutions concerned and the use of comparative policy evidence. (when costs are analyzed, they will be based on domestic analyzes and contrasted with international evidence, and instead, when the potential use of opportunities is calibrated, they will be based on effective results in other state realities and will be contextualized in the Andorran reality). As much in the definition of the indicators as in the obtaining and in the analysis of the information, in addition, a perspective will be applied that tries to compensate as much as possible the insiders and outsiders visions, a fundamental question in the prospective analysis of scenarios.

All the work carried out within the framework of this project must allow the generation of two types of products. On the one hand, databases populated with all the information collected. On the other hand, impact analysis. These analyzes can be comprehensive but also focused on one specific sector, limited to different time horizons or focused on very specific aspects and can be specified in very different formats: reports for interested institutions, technical reports, articles and presentations for the general public, papers for the scientific community, etc.

The project obviously has substantial obstacles that cannot be overlooked. To name just a few: shortcomings in the availability of information, imbalances between units of comparison, expected oversizing of the present time, the conjuncture and insider perspectives in the subjective analysis of future scenarios and structural transformations, combination of highly quantifiable elements with others of intangibles but of great relevance, analysis of elements such as opportunities, in which chance and unpredictable aspects play an important role, and, above all, the fact that we are dealing with forecasts and that these forecasts are based on scenarios that have not yet been defined or closed, as they are subject to negotiation.

All in all, the impact studies of the Andorra - European Union association agreement is a project that from Andorra Research + Innovation we undertake with the utmost caution but, at the same time, with the conviction that between renouncing to do the analysis and do it in the most complete, accurate and careful way possible (and illuminating the shortcomings we may encounter), it is best to try.