Towards the end of 2016 and following the failure of the joint European Foundation Statute initiative, the EFC and the DAFNE decided to undertake a joint academic research to scan and evaluate challenges and opportunities around the regulatory and soft-law framework for institutional philanthropy in Europe. The aim was to stimulate discussions and strategic thinking around future policy and advocacy work of the EFC and DAFNE and scope new areas for potential academic research on the topic.

The study puts out the challenges very clearly, even though most of them did not come as a surprise:

  • More efforts are needed to ensure better recognition of philanthropy in the EU treaties and European fundamental rights.
  • Barriers to cross-border philanthropy remain an ongoing challenge. Following the failure of a European Statute for foundations, efforts are still worthwhile to move towards a European public benefit concept and non-discriminatory tax regimes.
  • National laws must be in line with European fundamental rights including the freedom of association and EU fundamental freedoms (such as the Freedom of Capital, which includes free flow of philanthropic capital). Tools for philanthropy to use protection mechanisms should be used as appropriate (e.g. via infringement procedures).
  • The study also reports that ongoing EU efforts to counter terrorism financing and money laundering have continued to view the non-profit sector, including philanthropic money flows, as vulnerable to exploitation. Measures intended to protect the sector have however to be risk-based, proportionate and evidenced-based. In addition, the sector and policymakers should work jointly to assess and address risks both in the context of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and at national and European levels.

On many of the issues, we have a common agenda with the wider civil society which we consider ourselves part of. We are hence creating synergies with different actors, for example with the European Charities Committee on VAT (ECCVAT) on VAT issues impacting our sector and with other civil society actors on money laundering and terrorism financing issues and cross-border philanthropy taxation and rules of law issues.

Read the full article about enlarging the space of European philanthropy at Philanthropy In Focus.