Regulation is handicapping philanthropy’s work in Europe, say sector bodies


Andrew Milner and Charles Keidan


European foundations are spending more than €60 billion annually, yet their contribution is being hindered by ‘discriminating’ regulations.

That’s the view of the European Foundation Centre (EFC) and Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe (DAFNE) following a jointly commissioned study published today.

The EFC and DAFNE argue that restrictions on foreign sources of funding, inconsistent cross-border philanthropy taxation schemes and harmful impacts of too-rigid anti-terrorism and money laundering measures are ‘jeopardising the essential work’ of foundations across the continent.

Commenting on the report, Felix Oldenburg*, Chair of DAFNE and General Secretary of the Association of German Foundations said ‘there is a single market for goods and services in the EU, yet donations and civic engagement far too often stop at national borders.’ He added ‘arbitrary and discriminating regulations, which prevent cross-border philanthropy, must disappear’.

The study, ‘Enlarging the Space for European Philanthropy’, advocates a move towards a European public benefit concept and non-discriminatory tax regime, and makes a case for philanthropy to be recognised in European treaties. The report also calls on the sector and policymakers to work jointly to assess risks in a way that is ‘evidence-based and proportionate’ including around money laundering and tax evasion, and counter-terrorism financing.

The study revives much of the substance of a campaign, led by the EFC, to establish a European Foundation Statute. The proposal was discarded by the European Commission at the end of 2014, following failure to reach consensus on it among member states.

‘EU treaties have hindered the development of appropriate legal vehicles to advance philanthropy on a pan-European basis,’ said Massimo Lapucci, chairman of the EFC and Secretary General of the Italian foundation Fondazione CRT. ‘This DAFNE/EFC study offers possible ways to facilitate philanthropy across Europe.’

For more, read about Massimo Lapucci’s leadership of Fondazione CRT and vision for European philanthropy

* Disclosure statement: Felix Oldenburg is a member of the board of Alliance Publishing Trust, the publisher of Alliance magazine

Andrew Milner is associate editor of Alliance. Email
Charles Keidan is editor of Alliance. Email

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