1 December 2021

Will EU actions deliver for cross-border philanthropy?

It seems that policy makers are hearing our sector’s concerns about the need to overcome barriers to cross-border philanthropy, both at the level of the European Commission and at the level of the European Parliament. There is an increasing acknowledgement of philanthropy and philanthropic organisations as key actors in moving several EU policy agendas forward for the public good and a willingness to reduce existing barriers. We have for some time stressed our concerns that certain regulations as well as the wider political climate are increasingly challenging for civil society and philanthropic actors’ space. Moreover, the the sector still does not fully benefit from the Single Market and basic freedoms. A new analysis, initiated by the Philanthropy Advocacy initiative by Dafne and EFC, Comparative Highlights confirmed that barriers to cross-border work remain an issue. However, new initiatives at the level of the European Parliament and the European Commission could imply a new momentum to guarantee philanthropy and civil society/social economy space at the European level.

What EU initiatives are in the pipeline?  

  1. EC Social Economy Action Plan – to be published on 8 December

First, the European Commission will release the EU Action Plan for the Social Economy on December 8, a policy for which we have contributed with our own sector asks as Dafne/EFC and also as a collective effort via our membership in Social Economy Europe (SEE). We are eager to see if our inputs have found its way into the action plan. We will have the answer on December 8th when the Action Plan will be published and are eager to engage around the launch event to take place on the 16 December.

  1. MEP JURI Committee proposal on a European Statute for Associations and NPOs

MEP Sergey Lagodinsky is working on a report with input stemming from two studies in the JURI Committee on the added value of the European Statute for Associations and NPOs by prof. Anheier A statute for European cross-border associations and non-profit organisations. European added value assessment and by prof. Fici A statute for European cross-border associations and non-profit organizations. Potential benefits in the current situation.

Simultaneously, MEP Nicola Beer has made the case to ensure a full application of the free flow of capital to philanthropic action and MEP Ana Donath is working on a paper on wider civil society space.

The JURI committee proposal initiated by MEP Lagodinsky entails:

  • A proposal for a Regulation for a European Association Statute: lays down the conditions and procedures governing the formation, governance, registration and regulation of legal entities in the form of a European Association. A European Association shall be an independent and self-governed cross-border entity established on a permanent basis within the territory of the Union by voluntary agreement between natural or legal persons for a common non-profit purpose
  • A proposal for a Directive: aims to provide a common set of measures for non-profit organisations established in the Union in order to secure an enabling environment in which it is possible for these organisations to contribute to the functioning of the internal market. It approximates the laws of the Member States as regards certain aspects of the objectives and activities, registration, operations, financing and cross-border activities of non-profit organisations.

While we welcome the two proposals, which are clearly crafted with the aim to protect and enlarge the recognition and operating space for civil society and non-profit organisations in Europe, we have engaged also with own comments and suggestions to improve draft papers and ongoing initiatives also in collaboration with other social economy and civil society partners and are actively monitoring how policy action is shaping up.

Philanthropy Advocacy is analysing ways forward – we will only know in a couple of weeks’ time if the new EU action will deliver for philanthropy – stay tuned!