While the coronavirus has had a global impact on life and business, one of the few items not knocked off the European Commission’s legislative calendar is the Action Plan on Anti-Money Laundering (and terrorism financing) says our public affairs columnist Patrick Gibbels. As such, the European Fundraising Association and its partners are urging the Commission to enter into a constructive dialogue on the matter with the NGO sector.
The coronavirus has hit the world by storm, affecting virtually every aspect of our daily lives as well as our businesses. Across continents, people are either working from home or not working at all. Apart from a few types of business that cater to the specific needs created by this crisis, most organisations are ailing and forced to swiftly adjust and adapt their day-to-day operations to the new circumstances. Unfortunately, charities and fundraisers are no exception.
On the one hand, COVID-19 measures imposed by governments affect the operational side of things, on the other hand donations and other types of revenue are drying up. For example, rules regarding social distancing mean that organisations such as homeless shelters or those assisting disabled people have to drastically change their operations. At the same time, many campaigns and other fundraising activities have screeched to a halt while donors and potential donors may want to hold on to their money for the time-being, due to the economic insecurities caused by the crisis.
Governmental institutions are experiencing a similar shock to their systems. At EU level, the European Commission, as well as the European Parliament, have considerably slimmed down their legislative agendas. Meetings and these are largely happening via video conferencing with any votes taking place electronically.
What is remarkable however, is that one of the very few surviving items on the European Commission’s legislative calendar is the Action Plan on Anti-Money Laundering (and terrorism financing). As outlined in the March edition of Fundraising Europe, this proposal envisages far-reaching harmonising measures, as well as transnational coordination, that can pose significant regulatory and administrative burden on the sector.
Obviously, the fight against money laundering practices as well as countering terrorism financing are very important. However, now more than ever it is crucial to sensitise EU decision-makers to the vulnerable position of the fundraising community. Now is not the time to impose measures, potentially crippling an already struggling sector. Therefore, a balanced and risk-based approach is of the essence.
The European Fundraising Association calls on the European Commission to enter into a constructive dialogue with the NGO sector when discussing Anti Money Laundering and anti-terrorism financing , in order to understand the significant impact of the COVID-19 crisis and to work towards a solution that is both effective and feasible.
Patrick Gibbels, director, Gibbels Public Affairs