The Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe (DAFNE) and the European Foundation Centre (EFC) have called for a level playing field for philanthropy with the launch of a new study Enlarging the Space for European Philanthropy.


Enlarging the Space for European Philanthropy, commissioned by DAFNE and the EFC, and written by Oonagh Breen, Professor of Law at UCD Sutherland School of Law, argues that with the philanthropy sector spending more than 60 billion EUR in public good such as education, health, science, environment, migration and integration, it is a key pillar of European civil society.


However it says, the operating environment for institutional philanthropy in parts of Europe is under threat from issues including foreign funding restrictions, inconsistent cross-border philanthropy taxation schemes, and harmful impacts of too rigid anti-terrorism/money laundering measures. These, it says, are jeopardising the essential work of more than 140,000 European donors and foundations.


The study presents a number of key dilemmas and their solutions. They include:


– Philanthropy remains largely outside the European treaties: its recognition in the treaties and in European fundamental rights is needed.


– Barriers to cross-border philanthropy pose a major challenge: while the freedom of capital movement prohibits foreign funding restrictions, Europe needs to move towards a European public benefit concept, non-discriminatory tax regimes and simplifying tax authority practices and providing for more information sharing tools.


– National laws must be in line with European fundamental rights and EU freedoms: while the philanthropic sector uses existing protection mechanisms (e.g., via EU Treaty infringement procedures) it may be necessary to examine if these are sufficient.


EU and national efforts to counter-terrorism financing, money laundering and tax evasion, which are intended to protect the sector must be risk-based, proportionate and evidence-based. In addition, the sector and policymakers should work jointly to assess and address risks.


Massimo Lapucci, chairman of the EFC and secretary general of the Italian foundation Fondazione CRT, said:

“EU treaties have hindered the development of appropriate legal vehicles to advance philanthropy on a pan-European basis. This DAFNE/EFC study offers possible ways to facilitate philanthropy across Europe.”


DAFNE and EFC have stated that they will use the study’s learnings as a starting point for joint advocacy work for Europe’s philanthropic sector with the aim of maintaining and developing the space for philanthropy across Europe and its positive impact on civil society. An interactive event is to be held in Brussels on 28 May 2017, which will see the sector engage with policy makers on different pathway scenarios.