Time for action – policymakers call on philanthropy to support implementation of the Social Economy Action Plan
Now is the time to put the Social Economy Action Plan into action, as policymakers are increasingly recognising the role that philanthropy plays in today’s societies. With the Social Economy Action Plan, they have introduced a roadmap to work towards an enabling environment for philanthropy in the wider context of social economy and civil society. Since the launch of the SEAP, which occurred a day after EuroPhilantopics 2021, Philea has engaged on various occasions with policy makers as well as civil society organisations and sectoral stakeholders, both through public events and in-depth meetings on specific matters to make sure that our own Philea recommendations as well as wider Social Economy Europe recommendations are considered.
Putting the spotlight on philanthropy as part of social economy and civil society
The 2022 Philea Forum in Barcelona was an excellent opportunity to engage with policymakers from the European Commission (DG EMPL and DG ECFIN) around the relevant entry points for philanthropy. Miia Rossi-Gray, who implements the SEAP within DG EMPL, highlighted the importance of partnerships to achieve the vision of the SEAP. In this context, she referred to GECES, the Commission’s social economy expert committee, where both Philea and Fundación ONCE hold a seat. She also welcomed the European Parliament initiative for a European Association Statute and a Minimum Standards Directive for non-profit organisations, spearheaded by MEP Sergey Lagodinsky. This dual initiative is meant to enable a more positive fulfilment of the freedom of association, she noted. In March, Philea moderated the Civil Society Days opening panel, which was centred on whether a viable, sustainable economy that creates shared prosperity is a possible goal. We also actively contributed to the EU Social Economy Days in Strasbourg, where Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis and Commissioner Nicolas Schmit encouraged social economy actors, including foundations, to implement the SEAP. Related to this is, the report put forward by MEP Jordi Cañas on the EU Action Plan for the Social Economy was presented on 5 June and approved on 6 June in the European Parliament plenary in Strasbourg. This was another occasion where Commissioner Schmit stressed the need to recognise the social economy, including foundations, across all policies and initiatives at EU level. He referred to the Council Recommendations which are expected in 2023 and will provide a starting point to harmonisation across the EU Member States.
Ongoing dialogue to implement the SEAP
To achieve concrete implementation of the different opportunities for philanthropy included in the SEAP, Philea also maintains continual dialogue with policymakers. One highlight concerns Vice-President Schinas’s intervention on 14 June at our Philea roundtable for members, where he stressed the key role that philanthropy is playing in the context of the war in Ukraine and remarked on the clear commitment by the European Commission to work on overcoming barriers to cross-border philanthropy. We are engaging deeply with high-level policymakers at DG EMPL, DG GROW, DG ECFIN and DG TAXUD on the development of a set of guidelines to Member States for the implementation of the non-discrimination principle, new co-investment opportunities and follow up to MEP Sergey Lagodinsky’s report on a European Statute for Associations and Non-Profit Organisations.
In parallel, we are also providing input into the philanthropy related studies announced in the SEAP. A first study, as announced on page 22 of the SEAP, is being developed in two stages: the first part investigates philanthropic capital, while the second one will dive deep into philanthropic giving. The results of this European Investment Advisory Hub driven study are expected in autumn 2022. The second study, mentioned on page 18 of the SEAP, explores new funding models and cooperation mechanisms between public and private funders in the context of the New European Bauhaus. The results of this study will be presented in July 2022. Ultimately, both studies are part of a bigger collaborative exercise looking at ways for the EU and philanthropy to work more structurally together and to scale their impact through co-investment and collaboration.
The momentum is with us!
Increasingly, EU policymakers are recognising the role of philanthropy in Europe and the need to create an enabling environment for it to flourish, and Philea is ready to contribute to making this happen. On our side, we must tap into the knowledge of our Legal Affairs Committee, additional experts and partners to provide policymakers with actionable knowledge in the implementation of this policy. In this spirit, we welcomed members of our LAC and legal experts alike in June to review more technical inputs into the ongoing policy files and initiatives. We started to draft our recommendations for specific guidelines for the Member States to implement the non-discrimination principle, to work towards legislative tools, includinga potential European Statute for non-profit organisations and/or Minimum Standards, and to advocate for an investment facility between philanthropic foundations and the Commission. The European Commission has already responded to the European Parliament report that it will issue a legislative proposal with details yet to be determined. A public consultation is in the pipeline and Philea will make a strong case for the proposal to provide a solution for the entire public-benefit sector, including associations and foundations.