Monaco and the European Union

Monaco and the European Union

Talking about the Principality of Monaco, I would like to highlight six questions nobody talks about when it comes to the relation between Monaco and the European Union. With most of these topics you will find more detailed information in the upcoming chapters, but it is always interesting to have a quick overview of the effect of the European Union on the Principality of Monaco.

Is Monaco part of the European Union?

No. The Principality is part of the European Union’s Schengen zone and its monetary zone, but Monaco is not part of the European Union yet.

If you can enter the European Union, then you are also allowed to stay in Monaco for up to three months without having to apply for any kind of residence permit.

Does Monaco enjoy EU customs benefits?

Yes. Monaco is part of the EU customs territory through an agreement with France, and is administered as part of France.

It is actually a pretty big thing if you consider countries such as Liechtenstein, San Marino and Andorra. For instance, Liechtenstein is a member of the EEA and it is within the EU internal market and applies certain EU laws. San Marino and Andorra are in a customs union with the bloc.

Does the GDPR have any impact in Monaco?

In principle GDPR should not affect business in Monaco.

GDPR is now in force in the European Union. However, even if Monaco has entered into specific treaties with the EU - in particular on financial matters - the Principality is not a member of the European Union. It is good to know that GDPR is out of the scope of such treaties.

However, things can change if a Monaco based business deals with clients from outside the territory of the Principality of Monaco. In that case businesses have to comply with both Monaco data protection laws and GDPR.

A new law in Monaco amending the current data protection legislation is soon expected. This change in legislation is also required to obtain the long-awaited “adequate level” of protection for the Principality of Monaco, which will facilitate data transfers from an EU controller.

Can a Monaco made product be labelled as “Made in EU”?

No. Monaco is a de facto member of the Schengen area since its borders and customs territory are treated as part of France, and it officially uses the Euro as its sole currency.

However, this relationship does not extend to external trade. Therefore, Monaco may not claim EU origin in this respect.

Is Monaco heading to join the European Union?

Maybe. Theoretically EU membership for the Principality of Monaco is unlikely as, aside from its size, unlike the constitutional monarchies within the EU, the Sovereign Prince, H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco has considerable executive powers and is not merely a figurehead. The Principality of Monaco is an independent country with respect to the European Union.

Since 18 March 2015, the Principality of Monaco has been officially engaged in negotiations with the European Union (EU), aimed at reaching a balanced agreement. This will allow Monaco to participate as fully as possible in the EU’s internal market, while ensuring respect for the Principality’s vital interests, taking into account its unique geographical, demographic and economic features.

On 13 March 2019, the European Parliament adopted a report on the Association Agreement between the EU and Monaco. This document contains a number of recommendations addressed to the Council and the Commission on the conduct of the negotiations, in particular with regard to taking into account the specific characteristics of the Principality.

It seems Monaco has strong perspectives on the integration of the Principality into the European Union. Yet, and to be realistic it will take a long way of negotiations if it ever happens.

Is there any Mobile Data Roaming fee in Monaco?

Yes, because the European roaming freedom does not apply in the Principality of Monaco. As a tourist, visiting Monaco you have to expect to pay significant roaming fees.

There are thousands of tourists visiting the Principality of Monaco every day and most of them are not prepared and well-informed about the roaming charges in Monaco. The majority of people do not even notice that their smartphones have automatically selected a non-French network.

This effects not just the phone calls, but also data services are charged automatically instead of the monthly data allowance being used. 

Be aware that roaming fees apply for visiting tourists.

Monaco in Key Figures

Surface area
GDP per capita (2021)
.3 bn
Nominal GDP (2021)

Source: IMSEE

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