With the European Commission proposal in hand, now is the time for concerted action on the European Foundation Statute. Foundations and their representative bodies must go out and convince their national governments of the real benefits this optional and simple legal tool can bring to the lives of European citizens.
This is the key message that the EFC and Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe (DAFNE) are driving home across the sector as the campaign to obtain a Statute enters the final straits. While the previous chapter of the campaign could be characterized by its lengthiness, this final phase will be short, regardless of the outcome, as a decision should be reached by 2014.
Once passed, the Statute will allow foundations that have a public-benefit purpose and wish to work cross-border to become a ‘European Foundation’ (Fundatio Europaea, FE). Additional but complementary to existing national laws, an FE would have legal recognition in all member states and would operate under the same set of conditions across the EU.
To make the case, the EFC and DAFNE are organizing meetings with national government representatives, starting in those countries holding the current or upcoming EU presidencies – namely Denmark, Cyprus and Ireland – over the course of the next 18 months. Efforts are also focusing on countries where the scope and benefits of the Statute are not well understood among decision-makers.
To bring the Statute to life, a range of advocacy tools have been developed including a pool of stories from foundations to illustrate how the absence of a Statute has hampered European initiatives getting off the ground and to highlight how such a tool could stimulate cross-border activities. One of the many stories details the obstacles met by one German foundation that applied for legal recognition in Ireland but was turned down due to the lack of a common understanding of what is meant by ‘foundation’ and the absence of a trusted label accepted Europe-wide.