4 February 2021

EU policy makers strongly support cross-border philanthropy and removal of existing barriers

Members of the European Parliament and representatives from the European Commission made a strong pledge to remove barriers to cross-border philanthropy and public benefit work at a webinar, hosted by Renew Europe MEPs Nicola Beer and Ilhan Kyuchyuk on 1 February; “Philanthropy, non- and not-for-profit organisations in Europe – how to unleash the potential of public good”,

EU Commissioner Mairead McGuinness started proceedings stressing the important role of philanthropy and foundations as a key partner and stated that there is a “new momentum to develop EU policy solutions to ensure that donors and philanthropic actors/foundations can take full advantage of the single market”. Ulla Engelmann, Head of Unit for Social Economy from DG Grow, acknowledged that philanthropic actors and foundations face barriers when acting cross-border and stated that this will be looked at in the upcoming Social Economy Action Plan that the EU will issue later in the year.

The webinar, featuring two panels and two policy actions, addressed one of our key European Philanthropy Manifesto recommendations, on the facilitation of cross-border philanthropy. The first panel explored the potential development of a European legal form for non-profit organisations, and was moderated by MEP Ilhan Kyuchyuk, the shadow rapporteur of the INL “A statute for European cross-border associations and non-profit organisations (2020/2026(INL))” in the EP Legal Affairs Committee. The second panel, moderated by MEP Nicola Beer, centred on the Single Market for Public Good, including the development of a code of conduct to better implement the non-discrimination principle, which should allow philanthropy to operate freely across borders, and make full use of the free flow of capital.

Among the speakers on the second panel was the co-Chair of the Philanthropy Advocacy Legal Affairs Committee (LAC), Ludwig Forrest, who offered his insights on existing barriers to cross-border giving. Sibylle Mitscherling from Volkswagen Stiftung illustrated how complex and costly cross-border investments across EU borders still are. Spanish MEP Luis Garicano highlighted the important role of the Spanish foundation sector in the Covid-19 situation and acknowledged that there are still serious barriers  hampering cross-border work.  Other speakers included Renew Europe MEP Anna Donath, and representatives from European civil society and the foundation sector, including the Anna Lindh Foundation and Civil Society Europe. It is hoped that the European Parliament and European Commission will now move to action.

You can watch the video recording of the event here.