Our columnist Patrick Gibbels summarises some key updates from the European Commission in Brussels, highlighting what the Anti-Money Laundering regulations, ePrivacy, the Conference on the Future of Europe and social economy action plan could mean for nonprofits.
This year’s European Commission Work Programme has a very strong focus on completing the European Single Market. In essence, this is good for charities. After all, fragmented rules across Europe can cause problems for organisations, particularly those operating cross-border. However, levelling the playing field should not mean a one-size-fits-all approach, and it is important for the EU to consider the specific nature of nonprofits. A number of initiatives can have a significant impact on the sector and so we are monitoring these files closely. Ones to watch include the following:
Anti-Money Launching and Terrorist Financing
New rules on Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Terrorist Financing are due to be published this month. These new rules could mean a heavier administrative and regulatory burden for nonprofit organisations. The way the EU classifies each nonprofit, more specifically whether the organisation is seen as an obliged entity or not, will determine whether they fall within the full scope of the regulation. The sector has therefore been advocating a risk-based approach, rather than a catch-all solution.
One of the main reasons for the EU to update the rules on money laundering is legal fragmentation across EU Member States, making it very difficult for organisations to operate cross-border. It also creates a competitive disadvantage for those nonprofits that are active in the more heavily regulated countries. The aim now is for maximum regulatory harmonisation across the EU. In the most recent move, an EU-level contact point has now been established to assist nonprofits that are active in areas hit by EU sanctions. This person will oversee derogations for these organisations – see this guidance note. We are monitoring developments on this front and will share updates when the new legislative proposal has launched.
Conference on the Future of Europe
To guide Europe’s future policies, the European Commission has introduced The Conference on the Future of Europe. This initiative is a citizen-led series of debates and discussions that will enable people from across Europe to share their ideas and help shape our common future. The outcome of the Conference will be agenda setting and affect the course of future EU actions. It is therefore important that civil society is represented.
75 civil society organisations have signed a joint declaration. The declaration sets out that civil society organisations are intermediaries between individuals and public institutions, as recognised by the EU Treaties.They bring people together in a common cause, set collective goals for the common good and ensure participation and empowerment of all people. As such they should be actively and proactively involved in the different phases of the Conference.
Action plan for social economy
Aiming to boost the contribution of social economy organisations to a fair and sustainable growth in Europe, achieve The European Commission is currently preparing an action plan for social economy, it plans to launch in the fourth quarter of this year. The plan will enhance social investment, support social economy organisations to start up, scale up, innovate and create jobs.
Foundations and philanthropic actors are acting in the social economy sphere in a dual capacity: as social economy actors in their own right, and as funders/investors and partners of social economy actors. Through Philanthropy Advocacy, DAFNE and EFC have drafted a policy paper exploring the role of foundations and other philanthropic actors.
ePrivacy and data protection
Also highly relevant for the sector are the new EU rules on ePrivacy, a file which had started moving again after years of deadlock in the EU Institutions. These new rules can have a serious impact on the daily operations of fundraisers and nonprofits as they dictate what type of donor outreach is allowed and what isn’t, and which data an organisation can collect and in what way these data may be used. The GDPR already brought restrictions to the sector, the e-Privacy Regulation seeks to further tighten these rules. EFA has been working with other organisations who follow this dossier and share our concerns.
As it stands, the European Council is pushing a one-size-fits-all, rather than a risk-based approach, which is not ideal for the nonprofit sector. To help us all understand the Regulation better, EFA is in the process of organising an exchange of views with the European Commission on this matter. This will also provide EFA with an opportunity to inform the Commission of the potential pitfalls of this Regulation for the sector. More news on this will follow.
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.
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