Members of the European Parliament voted by a large majority in support of a proposed European Foundation Statute, which aims to make it easier for foundations that wish to work in Europe to carry out their projects and programmes, irrespective of national borders.
This democratic expression of the will of Europe’s citizens represents an important milestone in the campaign for the statute. The proposal must now be unanimously approved by the EU’s co-legislator, the Council of Ministers. ‘The positive vote on the statute sends a crystal-clear signal to the Council that Europe’s citizens want and need this piece of legislation,’ said EFC chief executive Gerry Salole. ‘This is a critical step in the final stretch of what has been a long process.’
With annual combined expenditures of over €100 billion, as well as 1 million full-time staff and more than 2 million volunteers, Europe’s 110,000 foundations represent a significant and highly engaged sector. In recent years the sector has sought to work more collaboratively to tackle social problems that increasingly transcend the EU’s national borders. However, collaborative initiatives are often delayed or abandoned due to high legal and administrative costs; difficulties with the recognition of foreign legal personalities; and legal uncertainties over the recognition of the ‘public interest’ nature of resident foundations’ cross-border work and public benefit status.
A European Foundation Statute is widely recognized not only as the best policy option to overcome these hurdles but also as an effective driver for improving the daily lives of Europe’s citizens. The foundation sector has made repeated calls over the past ten years for the introduction of this optional legal form to allow foundations and funders to work across borders on citizens’ initiatives. In the run-up to the vote by the Council of Ministers, the European Foundation Centre and its partners will now focus their advocacy efforts on the individual countries of the EU to ensure that the benefits of the statute are effectively conveyed and understood.
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