International Environmental Law and Armenia

Many countries are working to achieve their environmental objectives by systematically assuring compliance with environmental laws and regulations. In the transition economy of Armenia, this challenge comes at a point when concerted actions are also required to advance the rule of law and the credibility of governments.

A well-functioning system of environmental compliance assurance has a multitude of societal and economic benefits. It protects public health and the environment and helps countries implement environmental policies at lower overall costs. It promotes the rule of law and good governance, as well as the expansion of citizen engagement. Finally, it can boost investor confidence and stimulate the creation of new jobs. The legal and permitting framework has a direct impact on environmental compliance. The quality and clarity of environmental regulations, for example, affect the compliance behavior of regulated entities. A crucial question is whether environmental regulations sufficiently remove the benefits of non-compliance.

Armenia has in place most laws needed for addressing its environmental problems. Two pieces of recent legislation are noteworthy. The Law on Inspection Bodies, adopted in 2014, sets out key elements of compliance monitoring and enforcement activities across all sectors of the economy. Meanwhile, a Methodology and General Description of Criteria Determining Risks-Based Decree on the Risk Assessment Conducted by the Environmental Protection and Mining Inspection Body of Armenia was adopted in 2019. The methodology established three categories of risk for economic entities and described how to determine risk.

On 1 March 2021, Armenia’s Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with the European Union, signed in 2017, came into force. Draft environmental legislation in the country undergoes public consultation. Armenia ratified the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (the Aarhus Convention) in 2001. It has also been implementing the UNECE Maastricht Recommendations on Promoting Effective Public Participation in Decision-Making in Environmental Matters. Transparency in Armenia’s environmental legislation in the mining sector has improved significantly as a result of the country’s participation in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative since 2017. The EPMIB ensures compliance with Armenia’s legislation in the sphere of the environment and subsoil safety.


Remote work for everyone?

The ability to work from home after the pandemic has become a hotly debated topic around the world, with many office workers clamoring to hold on to their newfound flexibility and some CEOs remaining in favor of a return to offices. A new survey by McKinsey found that 87% of workers presented with the option to work from home or in a hybrid format are willing to take it. But many employers are still convinced that returning to office is the way forward.

Some countries are taking steps to enshrine working from home as a permanent legal right.

The Dutch parliament approved legislation to establish work-from-home as a legal right, making the Netherlands one of the first countries to grant remote working flexibility by law. The legislation was approved by the lower house of the bicameral parliament of the Netherlands on Wednesday last week. It still needs a nod from the Dutch senate before its final adoption.

In 2018, 14% of employed Dutch people worked remotely, according to data from Eurostat: the highest rate in Europe and well above the 5.2% average of EU citizens who worked from home. The Netherlands also ranked first in a 2019 survey by British internet service provider Plusnet that listed the best European countries to work remotely, based on factors including the percentage of people currently working remotely, internet quality, and cost of living.

Amendments would make the Netherlands one of the first countries to require businesses by law to grant their employees the flexibility to choose whether to work from home or in the office.

In countries like the U.S. or the U.K., no such protections have yet been approved on a national level, and employees have to negotiate remote work terms with their employer. In the U.K., for instance, employers can still decide to mandate a return to office for employees if they “have a good business reason for doing so,” according to the U.K. government’s official policy on flexible working.

Armenia has not yet demonstrated any bravery in this regard either. Only in instances of force majeure is remote work permitted under the Armenian laws. However, it is possible to organize work remotely in any situation by mutual agreement.

Armenia to Limit Cash Payments

The Armenian Parliament passed a bill setting amendments to the law “On non-cash payments” and a number of related laws. Under new changes, all transactions exceeding AMD 300,000 (approx. USD 700) made by individuals in Armenia are to be carried out noncash.

The regulations apply to payments for goods, sale, and purchase of property, use of goods, execution of work, provision of services, payment of salaries, etc. There are certain areas where the threshold is zero, such as budgetary receipts and payments, health care, education and legal services. For transactions, requiring state registration of rights, the threshold is 500,000 AMD.

For some payments, the regulations will come into force – in 2022 for the capital Yerevan, and in 2023 for provincial towns, and in 2024 throughout Armenia. In case of non-compliance with the requirements, the contract will be considered invalid․

According to officials, the AMD 300,000 threshold was chosen based on the results of studies and the actual volume of transactions. It is also noted that the transition to cashless payments is part of a plan to shift to a digital economy.

Armenia is not the only country in the world with cash payment limits.

  • In France, cash payment limits are based on residency. Cash payment limits for residents are EUR 3,000 and for non-residents acting as consumers, is EUR 15,000.
  • In the UK the consumers can make cash payments without any limits. The traders, however, need to register themselves with tax authorities as “High-Value Dealers” if accepting cash payments over EUR 15,000.
  • Bulgarian regulations limit cash transactions up to 10,000 leva (approx. EUR 5,112). If the transaction is over that limit, then the payment should be made by bank transfer. The same applies also in any case where the purchase price is over EUR 5,112, and payment is made in parts.
  • Spain, since November 2012, the limit is EUR 2,500 for residents and EUR 15,000 for non–residents. If the amount is higher, the payment should be done by bank. Failure to follow this precept might result in a fine of up to 25% of the total transferred amount.

In respect of regulations in Armenia, it should also be highlighted that the above-mentioned regulations are far too broad to cover all possible scenarios, necessitating a more precise approach in each circumstance. However, one thing is certain; they will create and promote a new non-cash payment culture in Armenia.

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