Monaco Unitary state

History and trends

The Principality of Monaco is a parliamentary Republic. Its Constitution was adopted on 17 December 1962.

The Principality of Monaco is a French protectorate governed since 1297 by the House of Grimaldi, originally from Genoa, whose palace stands on the Rock. Monaco is considered a tax haven. Many international banks have opened subsidiaries in Monaco to take advantage of the tax benefits. La Condamine, situated around a small bay, is the principal business district.

Monaco was originally a Phocaean Greek colony and the site of temple dedicated to Melqart. It was known as “the Unique”, from the Greek Monoïkos and the Latin Monaecus, which gave rise to the name Portus Herculis Monaeci and, later, Monaco. It was annexed by Marseille and Christianised in the 1st century AD.

In the 7th century is was part of the kingdom of the Lombards, which was granted the entire Ligurian coast by Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor in 1162. The Lordship of Monaco had a turbulent past, passing from the Holy Roman Empire, to Genoa and the rulers of Provence (including Charles of Anjou). The House of Grimaldi eventually took possession of Monaco in 1297, when François seized the castle, built in 1215, and turned Monaco into a Welf naval base.

Shortly before the French Revolution, Honoré III, Prince of Monaco (1733-1795) intended to instigate political reforms (1789), lost possession of his lands in France (night of 4 August 1789) and the principality was annexed (3 January 1793). Monaco was returned to the House of Grimaldi by the Treaty of Paris (1814), which ended its period as a French protectorate, establishing it as a protectorate of the Kingdom of Sardinia (Congress of Vienna in 1815, and Treaty of Stupinigi, 8 November 1817).

A revolutionary uprising instigated by the Sardinians resulted in Menton and Roquebrune splitting from the principality in 1848. Monaco regained the territories after protesting to the Treaty of Paris (1814) signatories, but eventually ceded them to France (February 1861).

Since then, Monaco voluntarily became a French protectorate (customs union, 1865), while retaining its sovereignty. As its gambling industry expanded, Monaco abolished land, personal income and property taxes, as well as duties (February 1869).

Monaco was a absolutist regime until 1911, although this changed under Albert I (1889-1922) through the 1911 constitution, which was further liberalised through amendments in 1917 and 1930.

Prince Rainier introduced further liberal reforms to the constitution in 1962, establishing a constitutional monarchy and giving women the right to vote. The Prince exercises executive power along with a four-member Council of Government. The legislative branch consists of an 18-member National Council, elected for a five-year term. Since 1992, women have been able to pass on Monegasque nationality to their children – a right previously reserved exclusively for men.

In 2004, after Monaco joined the Council of Europe as its 46th member state, it was forced to amend its constitution to grant more extensive powers to the National Council, its parliament.

When Prince Rainier III died in 2005 after 56 years on the throne, he was succeeded by his son, Albert II. In a break with his father’s policies, Albert II announced a new era combining finance and ethics. After the OECD identified Monaco as a non-cooperative tax jurisdiction, it agreed to sign tax information exchange agreements with various countries. It was subsequently struck off the OECD’s blacklist in September 2009.