20 May 2024

European Philanthropy Manifesto presented at Bundesverband Deutscher Stiftungen annual conference

Philea, VolkswagenStiftung and Bundesverband Deutscher Stiftungen called for a better European framework for foundations and wider civil society at the annual Bundesverband Deutscher Stiftungen conference in Hannover on 14-15 May.

MEP McAllister pointed to the crucial importance of the upcoming EU elections to strengthen our European core values such as democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights. He acknowledged that civil society and foundations have a crucial role to play to co-shape future societal questions and that they need enabling frameworks to do this. Anja Thöm, VolkswagenStiftung pointed out that foundations still struggle when claiming back foreign withholding tax for their foreign asset allocation into EU markets and that its time to develop a European concept of public benefit. Hanna Surmatz, Philea referred to other existing barriers when donors want to give cross-border in a tax effective way and when foundations want to move across-border or merge across-border. Something that business can do easily but a single market for philanthropy does not yet exist – hence the European Philanthropy Manifesto recommendations should be quickly implemented.

Moderated by Verena Staats, Bundesverband Deutscher Stiftungen, panellists considered the new European Cross-Border Association proposal as a step into the right direction and a step to also open the door for a legislative framework for foundations at EU level under a legal basis that does not require unanimous approval of all EU Member States, which prevented the European Foundation Statute proposal in the past from moving ahead. The time is now to move ahead with a single market for philanthropy.

Image credit: Irene Hell


Hanna Surmatz
Head of Policy