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A debate on the need for ‘A Single Market for Philanthropy’ launched at the European Parliament’s plenary on 21 October.
The aim of the initiative is to unlock the potential of philanthropy in the recovery and future of Europe, mobilising complementary private resources for the public good and facilitating cross-border giving and philanthropic action. It was welcomed by EC Commissioner Mairead McGuiness, who stressed the importance of the philanthropic sector in Europe, saying:
“Philanthropy can help us catalyse a more holistic response to the vast challenges that lie ahead, from climate change to vaccination and social innovation.”
Several MEPs also contributed, including the initiators of the debate, European Parliament Vice-President Nicola Beer and MEP Ilhan Kyuchyuk.
They called for bold action, highlighting the quick response of philanthropic organisations to the pandemic, particularly in helping to bridge gaps in public provision by supporting the most affected communities, and saying:
“However, the potential of philanthropy cannot take full effect yet, even within the European Union. Complex rules continue to hinder cross-border philanthropy in the form of multiple legal, administrative and fiscal barriers.”
Also speaking in support of the initiative, MEP Seán Kelly underlined the key role philanthropy plays in upholding community cohesion, sharing European values, tackling rising inequalities and helping to meet citizens’ needs and deliver change. MEP Milan Brglez highlighted how philanthropic organisations have the necessary agility to work cross border that is essential to address the big challenges of the current times, including the green and digital transition.
In his contribution, MEP Sergey Lagodinsky called for the creation of a supranational legal form and special regulatory regimes for European associations, nonprofits and foundations to enhance cooperation in Europe. He said:
“We should emphasise and strengthen the non-discrimination principle based on the free flow capital principle in our European Union, as the European Court of Justice has proposed. We need to lower or mitigate financial burden for cross-border finances. Only by doing so will we be able to strengthen cooperation across border in the European Union. It is of outmost importance to have a regime which would help civil society, not just economy, to be really European.”
In support of the debate, Hanna Surmatz, Enabling Environment Manager and co-lead of the joint Dafne and EFC Philanthropy Advocacy initiative stated:
“We welcome this timely debate and the related initiatives in the European Parliament and the European Commission. The challenges for our society, such as the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and climate change, do not stop at national borders, but legal frameworks for philanthropic giving do. Therefore, we fully support this call for introducing a single market for philanthropy and public good across the EU.”
More information on the single market for philanthropy is available in the European Philanthropy Manifesto as well as the legal analysis across 40 countries in Europe in the recent Comparative Highlights of Foundation Laws published on 1 October.
Picture: European Parliament building by Erich Westendarp from Pixabay