In her opening remarks, EC Commissioner Mairead McGuinness stressed the importance of the philanthropic sector in Europe that includes more than 147,000 public-benefit foundations with an accumulated annual expenditure of nearly 60 billion euros. She said: “Philanthropy can help us catalyse a more holistic response to the vast challenges that lie ahead, from climate change to vaccination and social innovation.”
MEP Seán Kelly underlined how philanthropy plays a key role in upholding community cohesion and sharing European values, tackling rising inequalities and helping to meet citizens’ needs and deliver change. For MEP Milan Brglez, philanthropic organisations are practicing European solidarity and have the necessary agility to work cross border that is essential to address the big challenges of our times, including the green and digital transition.
EP Vice-President Nicola Beer and MEP Ilhan Kyuchyuk highlighted the quick response of philanthropic organisations to the pandemic, particularly helping to bridge the gap in public provision by supporting the most affected communities.” “However, the potential of philanthropy cannot take full effect yet, even within the European Union. Complex rules continue to hinder cross-border philanthropy in the form of multiple legal, administrative and fiscal barriers.” Beer and Kyuchyuk call therefore for a bold action and the establishment of “a Single Market for Philanthropy“ with free flow of capital and application of the non-discrimination principle.
MEP Sergey Lagodinsky called for the creation of a supranational legal form and special regulatory regimes for European associations, non-profits and foundations to enhance cooperation in Europe. He said: “We should emphasise and strengthen the non-discrimination principle based on the free flow capital principle in our European Union, as the European Court of Justice has proposed. We need to lower or mitigate financial burden for cross-border finances. Only by doing so will we be able to strengthen cooperation across border in the European Union”. He added, “it is of outmost importance to have a regime which would help civil society, not just economy, to be really European”.
Hanna Surmatz, Enabling Environment Manager and co-lead of the joint Dafne and EFC Philanthropy Advocacy initiative stated: “We welcome this timely debate and the related initiatives in the European Parliament and the European Commission. The challenges for our society, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, do not stop at national borders, but legal frameworks for philanthropic giving do. Therefore, we fully support this call for introducing a single market for philanthropy and public good across the EU.”
Please find more information on the single market for philanthropy that is strongly supported by the sector in this European Philanthropy Manifesto as well as the legal analysis across 40 countries in Europe in this recent “Comparative Highlights of Foundation Laws”, published on 1 October 2021.