Swedish Presidency of the EU, European resilience, and the role of philanthropy
With the beginning of the new year, the Czech Republic handed over the presidency of the Council of the European Union to Sweden.
The newly formed Swedish government published in December its agenda for the next six months, noting a willingness to follow the path traced by France and the Czech Republic in tackling the crises Europe is facing. Yesterday, during the plenary session, the programme was outlined to the European Parliament too.
“Our presidency will be an active one, and will offer constructive leadership to deepen the EU’s strengths, and find compromises” said Ulf Kristersson, the Swedish Prime Minister, while presenting his government’s programme to its national parliament. “Our countries are different, and sometimes we have different perspectives. But diversity is a strength. Together we can overcome the crises and build a better Europe.”
Sweden outlined four main pillars for its work programme, which we believe might be closely linked to some of our policy and advocacy objectives:
- Security, security efforts will focus on continued support for Ukraine and building consensus towards a common European defence policy
- Competitiveness, the Council will prioritise competitiveness by focusing on the single market and global trade opportunities, as well as promoting free competition, private investment, and successful digitalisation.
- Green and energy transitions, the green and energy transitions priority will address high and volatile energy prices, as well as accelerating the energy transition and delivering on EU goals
- Democratic values and the rule of law, the Council will work to promote the rule of law, fundamental rights, and to put the Union in a position to defend these common values.
As representatives of the European philanthropic sector, we are glad to see a commitment to democratic values, rule of law and the achievement of the EU sustainable goals. We believe our vision for an enabling environment for philanthropy and civil society is fundamental to defend European core values and our vision hence fits into the Swedish Presidency priorities:
Thanks to the efforts of over 147,000 philanthropic organisations and €60 billion in annual giving, philanthropy has a significant economic and social impact on the EU economy, with combined assets of public-benefit foundations amounting to over €511 billion.
Our members actively engage with their local social economy infrastructures, and in the past Philea provided input into the Social Economy Action Plan consultation. The following are our recommendations to the Council to supporting European social enterprises and the philanthropic sector:
- Following up on the pledge to deliver Council recommendations on the social economy
- Issuing Guidance to Member States to regulate the taxation of cross-border philanthropy activities
- Working on a co-investment facility for philanthropy under InvestEU
Green and Energy Transitions
Philanthropy plays a key role towards the green transition. We regularly engage with the EU institutions and Member States around coordinating joint ventures between public and philanthropic capital to develop green social-economy projects. Moreover, we are in conversation with DG CLIMA to officially pledge to the EU Climate Pact – the initiative which aims at bringing the EU Green Deal to life. Our commitment also includes the #PhilanthropyForClimate movement to, as we host the European Philanthropy Coalition for Climate.
- Working on collaborations between public and private actors
Democratic values and rule of law
Healthy democratic institutions rely on the fair application of rule of law principles and being part of the civil society family we strive to protect civil society space across the EU and beyond. In June, we co-signed a letter to President Ursula Von Der Leyen calling on the European Commission to include a strategy for Civil Society in the 2023 Commission work plan. We also contributed to the annual Rule of Law Report, pushing for the implementation of a civil society strategy, and, during the Conference on the Future of Europe, called on the European Commission to strengthen its engagement with civil society. Moreover, the link between civil society and healthy democracies is consistent with the first pillar of our Manifesto.
- The following are our suggestions to help the incumbent president to defend democracy, rule of law and the European civic Space:
- Working on a European civil society strategy
- Protecting civil society from authoritarian governments
- Preventing the civic space from shrinking
- Preventing unintended consequences from anti money laundering and counter terrorism financing measures