Single market for Philanthropy: calls grow to reduce barriers to cross-border giving


Alliance magazine


A leading Austrian Foundation has called on EU institutions to reduce barriers to cross border giving and to protect philanthropy during a debate in European Parliament. Franz Karl Prüller of the Vienna based Erste Stiftung made his comments in a keynote speech at the ‘Single Market for Philanthropy and the strategic role of philanthropy in the InvestEU proposal’ event organised by DAFNE and the EFC.

‘The European philanthropy sector contributes billions of Euros annually to charitable causes. However, while businesses can operate across all EU Member States in a single market, philanthropic institutions face significant barriers once they go beyond national borders.’ said Franz Karl Prüller.

The debate brought together policymakers and foundations for a more focused discussion on ways to increase cooperation in the sector and to strengthen European civil society.

He presented on behalf of Europe’s philanthropy sector the four key recommendations of philanthropy to the EU institutions:

  1. Recognise and engage with philanthropy, including the recognition of philanthropy in the EU Treaties (Article 11) and in fundamental rights
  2. Reduce barriers to cross-border philanthropy, including to ensure free philanthropic flows and investments, prohibit foreign funding restrictions, easier comparability of foreign based charities for tax purposes, eliminate barriers to philanthropic and social investment, promote citizen action and enable cross-border moves and mergers
  3. Enable and protect philanthropy, including a call on Member States for an enabling environment for philanthropy, ensuring that EU measures intended to protect the sector from terrorism financing, money laundering and tax evasion are risk-based, proportionate and evidence-based, work towards a fairer VAT regime for charities and encourage philanthropic and citizen action
  4. Co-Invest for public good, including creating an EU Fund for democracy, human rights and values and a strategic partnership with institutional philanthropy for EU budget

Furthermore he welcomed the European Commission proposal for the InvestEU programme, which recognises philanthropic actors as key partners. ‘We expect that the proposed InvestEU programme will trigger significant additional investments into key policy areas of concern also to philanthropy such as research, innovation and digitisation and social investment and skills. The latter policy area is of particular importance for the philanthropy and social investment community. In order to help scale solutions, combining and leveraging different sources of funding is critical.’

The debate on a ‘Single Market for Philanthropy’ is part of the EFC’s ongoing advocacy and policy work for its members.

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