Monitoring EU regulations: when cooperation works

Counter-terrorism measures implemented by the European Union can have a detrimental effect on the work of foundations and other non-profit organizations (NPOs) operating both in and beyond the EU. That is why the Stockholm Programme, the new EU programme in the area of freedom, security and justice for 2010-14, has been such a focus of attention and concern for the EFC in recent months.

The EFC joined forces with members of DAFNE (Donors and Foundations’ Networks in Europe) and development NGOs, notably Cordaid, to ensure that the Stockholm Programme does not include regulatory provisions that could be damaging to foundations and development actors.

The initial EU Presidency Programme proposal of October 2009 included some worrying proposals to set ‘binding legal standards’ for the transparency and responsibility of NPOs in respect of the fight against terrorism. In early November, the EFC and its partners alerted national government representatives that this is an issue best addressed at member state level, and that there is neither need, nor legal competence, for binding EU-level legislation.

The partners also stressed that security or counter-terrorism measures should not in any way hamper the work of NPOs, either in or outside the EU. In fact, two recent studies commissioned by the European Commission, while showing no evidence of any significant abuse, outline interesting initiatives in the area of co-regulation and self-regulation across the 27 member states. The EFC believes that it is important to acknowledge the findings of these surveys and build upon them.

As a result of these coordinated advocacy efforts, the proposed text was amended and the Council has invited the European Commission to present an action plan to promote NPO transparency by June 2010. The EFC and other NPOs will be providing input to the Commission to help develop the plan.

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