An emboldened coalition can make the case to EU institutions of the importance of philanthropy to Europe’s future
The activity and effectiveness of European philanthropy over the past years has been significantly shaped and partly narrowed by new data-protection and privacy rules, by the introduction of foreign funding restrictions in some EU member states and by continuing barriers to cross-border philanthropy. At the same time, at EU level, there are great opportunities to work more closely and strategically with EU institutions when it comes to co-funding and co-granting. Furthermore, 70 per cent of relevant national legislation for philanthropy originates in EU institutions. For all these reasons, Brussels has become a key place for Europe’s philanthropy sector, engaging with EU institutions and improving the operating environment for philanthropy.
Europe is about creating a single market and harmonizing rules but, in this debate, philanthropy is not yet on the map.
I joined the Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe (DAFNE), in October 2017 as its executive director after 12 years coordinating the European advocacy work of Europe’s press publishing houses. Like foundations, press publishers value their independence: political influence on journalistic content is fiercely resisted, as it should also be on the programmes and projects philanthropy supports. The press sector regards it as crucial to engage with EU institutions at all levels to shape the regulatory and non-regulatory environment for a free, independent and vibrant press. So should philanthropy: promoting the need for an independent and vibrant philanthropy sector in Europe in order to create even more and better public value is in the best interests of Europe’s society.