30 July 2021

Javier Nadal, Chair of the AEF, speaks with Europa 2021 on the role of foundations in times of crises and the common space for philanthropy in Europe

Javier Nadal, Chair of the Association of Spanish Foundations (AEF), has been interviewed by José Carlos Gallardo on Europa 2021, a Spanish public TV programme dedicated to the main issues on the EU weekly agenda and concerns for European citizens. The broadcast collaborates and is supported by the European Parliament, the European Commission and Hablamos de Europa.

Nadal has recalled how COVID-19 has shaped the foundations’ landscape and how these have been able to adapt, renew and react. Despite the initial challenges, almost half of Spanish foundations have re-imagined themselves and adjusted their programmes to mitigate the economic and social impact of the pandemic, generating a dynamic of collaboration. In times of crises, indeed, foundations “find their strength and do whatever it takes not to stop”, demonstrating their leading role in dealing with common challenges.

“Everyone has a foundation close to them that is resolving issues in their lives”, says Nadal. The AEF Chair has remarked the outstanding work foundations carry out in Spain, counting on a sector composed of 9,200 organisations, 260,000 employees and 8,500 economic activities. However, though this work is known, “it is not clear to everyone that it is the result of the philanthropy world”. The foundation sector, thus, still needs to be fully acknowledged as an expression of civil society in order to be able to act by identifying problems and disclosing new opportunities to tackle, opined Nadal.

Regarding the role of foundations in the distribution of the Next Generation recovery funds, the EU has embraced a renewed awareness of civil society’s role, he has explained. Indeed, in outlining the essence and definition of these funds, the EU provided guidelines on the necessary participation of civil society to access them.

NextGenerationEU (NGEU) is an EU temporary recovery package designed to rebuild a post-COVID-19 Europe. Worth more than €800 billion, it is the largest stimulus package ever financed in Europe. NextGenerationEU is meant to be more than a recovery plan addressing the immediate socio-economic consequences brought by COVID-19. As pointed out by Nadal, indeed, the pandemic has not only threatened European economy, but also European values and planet sustainability. Thus, the EU has realised the need to adopt a holistic approach to overcome this crisis and develop an instrument able to shape the future of Europe.  

Europa 2021 interviews Javier Nadal, Chair of the Spanish Association of Foundations (AEF)


In the search for a common space for philanthropy, the AEF relies on Next Generation funds that have boosted the necessary collaboration between the public and the private sector, he has highlighted. “On the other hand, when the member states, including Spain, are told that they need to talk to civil society, they often say that they have already talked to the trade unions and employers’ organisations, but civil society is something more than that. I would even say that civil society is something else. But it is good that this idea is coming from Brussels and that countries are adapting to it. 

This news was originally published by the AEF. 

Click here to see the full interview.