1 October 2021

EFC and Dafne publish “Comparative Highlights of Foundation Laws”, a comprehensive overview of the legal and fiscal regulation of foundations in Europe

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The EFC and Dafne have published “Comparative Highlights of Foundation Laws” a broad, comparative overview of the diverse legal and fiscal environments of foundations, across 40 countries, as well as identifies relevant trends and developments.

The report looks into how philanthropy in Europe is regulated from a comparative perspective, what legal requirements exist to establish a foundation, whether foundations  can pursue only public-benefit or also private purposes, what governance requirements are set out, what forms of tax incentives exist to encourage philanthropic organisations and giving and how this differs across the continent or what impact anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism legislation has on the European philanthropy sector.

While many governments have introduced tax incentives to stimulate philanthropic activity, an enabling environment  goes beyond tax incentives and includes the freedom to set up a public-benefit organisation, as well as the freedom of foundations and donors to operate without undue restrictions, either domestically or across borders,” says Hanna Surmatz, legal expert and co-lead of the Philanthropy Advocacy initiative.

The study shows that despite trends towards more integration, old and new barriers to cross-border philanthropic action exist and a European single market for philanthropy and the public good is not yet a reality.

Helmut Anheier, Senior Professor of Sociology at Hertie School and author of numerous books on philanthropy, argues in the Foreword of the publication: “More and more foundations work across national borders, and in particular their potential in the many hundreds of EU cross-border regions seems immense. In this context, there is an urgent need for a common European framework, especially in terms of cross-border tax treatment and programme activities.”

Download the report.