Europe has an Opinion on philanthropy

Ludwig Forrest

The call for an enabling environment from the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) may prove a milestone for giving in Europe

The first European Economic and Social Committee Opinion entirely dedicated to philanthropy comes at a crucial time and sets the tone for philanthropy-related debates throughout the new mandate of the European Parliament and Commission. At a time when core values such as democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights are being challenged in some Member States, philanthropy has a crucial role to play alongside wider civil society to defend our core values.

In line with EU freedoms, the Opinion calls on EU Member States to establish an enabling environment for philanthropy. The Opinion also stresses the importance of philanthropy for the common good and for social cohesion, with very clear policy recommendations for ways forward. While business can operate easily across borders, philanthropy cannot. There are various possible ways of addressing this, including supranational legal forms to facilitate philanthropic engagement. The Opinion asserts that Member States should ensure the application of the freedom of capital, coupled with the non-discrimination principle, to facilitate cross-border philanthropy.

Philanthropy is not just about large donors. Millions of Europeans engage in philanthropy, giving money, time, skills and goods.

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