17 December 2021

The enabling environment for philanthropy at ERNOP Conference 2021

Under the title “Barriers to cross-border philanthropy and how to overcome them”, the academic community researching philanthropy discussed the enabling environment for philanthropy on 3 December 2021. The annual ERNOP Conference was planned to take place in Dublin from 2 to 3 December 2021 but had to move to a digital format. This was a great opportunity for academic researchers to connect and discuss with practitioners the EU policy agenda for the public good.

The abovementioned session was moderated by Anne-Laure Paquot from the Transnational Giving Europe and welcomed academic speakers Wino van Veen (VU Amsterdam), Katerina Ronovska (Masaryk University), Giedre Liedeikyte-Huber (University of Geneva) as well as philanthropy infrastructure representatives Hanna Surmatz and Hanna Hanses (Philea – a Dafne & EFC convergence).

The session was kicked off by Hanna Hanses and Hanna Surmatz, who provided insights into the recently published Comparative Highlights 2021 publication. This comparative analysis builds on the previously released legal and fiscal country profiles and was supported by a network of national experts. Key findings from the Comparative Highlights were shared, upon which key recommendations to enable European philanthropy were shared. Hanna Surmatz then dove deeper into current EU policy proposals such as the European Commission Social Economy Action Plan as well as the European Parliament JURI Committee report on a proposal for a Regulation for a European Statute for Associations and non-profit organisations, and a proposal for a Minimum Standards Directive.

Legal experts were then interviewed on legal and tax issues related to philanthropy. Wino van Veen and Katerina Ronovska shared their thoughts on the potential added value of a European supra-national legal form for foundations, and whether it should be linked to tax treatment of foundations. Giedre Lideikyte-Huber then shared her insights on the tax treatment of foundations, in light of the recently published OECD taxation and philanthropy research. Noting that in principle, almost all countries are compliant with European Court of Justice (ECJ) case law, it is surprising that some countries still indicate that they do not apply equal tax treatment to activities of comparable EU based entities operating in their respective jurisdictions, which is not in line with ECJ case law.

The session was one of the many inspiring sessions at the annual conference. Hanna Surmatz was also part of the “Legal and fiscal aspects of philanthropy” session, where she moderated a conversation between Raffaella Rametta (University of Teramo), Giedre Lideikyte-Huber and Marta Pittavino (University of Geneva) and Andrea Bartikova (Masaryk University). The discussion looked at the role of foundations of banking origins in responding to Covid-19 in the Italian context; the relation between tax deductions and giving behaviour in the Swiss context; and the supervision of foundations in the Czech context.

The annual conference was a great opportunity for academic experts to come together around the issue of the enabling environment for philanthropy, hence Philea invited some of the academics in a pre-conference meeting on these topics.