On 1 July 2022, the Czech Republic took over the Presidency of the EU. In this month’s blog, our Brussels correspondent Patrick Gibbels explains how the EU Presidency works, and highlights the key legislative areas for the fundraising sector to keep an eye on in the coming months.
Every six months, one of the 27 EU Member States takes over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The reason why this is often referred to as the “EU Presidency”, rather than just the Council Presidency, is the fact that the agenda set by the Presidency sets the course for all EU decision-making for that six-month period.
These days EU Presidencies are organised in “Trios” which means that three consecutive EU Presidencies agree on an overarching programme ahead of their combined 18-month term. In other words, whatever course they decide to take will have a significant impact on the legislation coming out of Brussels during that time. The Czech Republic is the second Presidency in this trio, preceded by France and followed by Sweden.
The past years and months have seen a big push by the EU towards strengthening the rights and freedoms of citizens. Whilst this is of course a positive development in principle, we have also seen that an overzealous approach towards privacy protection can have negative implications for fundraisers and other not-for-profit organisations (NPOs). In the Programme of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Czechs announced that they will build on the work of their French predecessors, keeping a strong focus on the protection of (digital) rights of citizens. Whilst supporting the general principle, it is important for EFA and its members to remain vigilant and to educate decision-makers regarding any undue negative implications legislative proposals might have on the sector.
Whilst there is not much EU legislation drafted specifically for the fundraising sector, we have been following and reporting on a number of EU legislative proposals that can have a direct or indirect impact on how fundraisers and NPOs carry out their day-to-day business. Most of these proposals are designed to protect citizens’ rights, and more specifically their privacy. Whilst these proposals are drafted in essence to curb large online players, EU legislators often underestimate the collateral damage on the NPO sector.
We all know the General Data Protection Regulation by now, and the limitations it imposed on the work of NPOs, as well as a significant increase in administrative and regulatory burden. More recently, an ongoing revision of European e-Privacy legislation could kill all telephone and online outreach to existing and potential donors. But it is not just online limitations, for some time now the EU has been mulling the introduction of an opt-in regime for unaddressed mailings, which would make it virtually impossible to deliver leaflets or any other materials door-to-door in order to attract donors.
In their Presidency Programme, the Czechs outline that they will keep on this same course and take over the agreement of the European Declaration on Digital Rights and Principles, which was presented during the French Presidency. EFA will keep monitoring our relevant legislative files closely, together with our coalition partners, and we will set out to educate decision-makers regarding the potential implications of these proposals on the sector. This way we hope to contribute to a balanced approach that considers all stakeholders involved.
About Patrick Gibbels
Patrick is EFA’s public affairs columnist in Brussels.
He is the director of Gibbels Public Affairs.
Follow Patrick @GPA_Brussels.
Read more from Patrick in our View from Brussels column here.
Main photo by Martin Krchnacek on Unsplash
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