In January, members of the EFC Management Committee met José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, and raised with him two issues that are of particular importance to foundations: the need for a European Foundation Statute, and the problem of rules relating to Value Added Tax (VAT).
The creation of a European Foundation Statute (EFS) is a long-standing objective of the EFC. Having such a Statute would make it easier for foundations to pursue their activities across all the countries of the European Union. During 2008, a feasibility study was carried out for the European Commission by experts from the Max Planck Institute for International Private Law and the Centre for Social Investment at the University of Heidelberg. This feasibility study, published in February, is now the subject of a public consultation.
President Barroso expressed his support for the idea of a European Foundation Statute. He emphasized that the consultation period on the feasibility study is a window of opportunity for the EFC and its members and partners to demonstrate that there is strong demand for the creation of such a Statute. A large wave of positive responses would help to create the conditions necessary for the European Commission to come forward with a legislative proposal – perhaps in 2010.
Another issue on which the EFC has been lobbying the EU institutions for a number of years relates to the rules around VAT, which represents a significant financial burden on the activities of foundations in Europe. President Barroso has asked the EFC to collect specific examples of foundations that are being treated as the end users of goods and services and are therefore unable to claim back their VAT payments. If a majority of Member States can be convinced that reforming the fiscal framework would bring significant benefits in the public interest, then the Commission could begin to develop proposals in this area.