Brussels, 10 October 2018 – Yesterday evening’s lively debate in the European Parliament hosted by MEP Ivana Maletic (EPP/HR), and joined by colleague MEPs José Manuel Fernandes (EPP/P) and Jan Olbrycht (EPP/PL), heard a variety of perspectives and outlooks on a “Single Market for Philanthropy and the strategic role of philanthropy in the InvestEU proposal”.  Supported by Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe (DAFNE) and the European Foundation Centre (EFC), the debate brought together policymakers and foundations for a more focused discussion, following an event in May, on ways to increase cooperation in the sector and to strengthen European civil society

Prof. Dr. Oonagh B. Breen, the author of the study “Enlarging the space for philanthropy in Europe” published in January 2018, emphasised the necessity to facilitate cooperation between the EU institutions and the philanthropic sector in order to use the great potential that still remains untapped. She urged members of the European Parliament and the European Commission to use existing legal frameworks to deepen collaboration and to overcome current barriers. “Philanthropy does not stop at borders,” she said during the debate pointing to the benefits of cross-border philanthropy and free movement of philanthropic capital and expertise.

Hosting MEP Ivana Maletic supported the efforts to recognise institutional philanthropy and welcomed the opportunity to increase the links with donors and foundations in order to tackle social issues and strengthen civil society in Europe. “The InvestEU programme is one of the first steps in this direction,” she stated during the session. MEPs José Manuel Fernandes, Rapporteur on the InvestEU programme, and Jan Olbrycht, Rapporteur on MFF, discussed specific measures that can be developed in collaboration with the philanthropic sector.

“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” states Franz Karl Prüller from ERSTE Stiftung (Austria) in his keynote. 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 tools and facilitating engagement around the development of social innovation tools

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.”


Further Resources:

– Study “Enlarging the space for European philanthropy”


The debate on a ”Single Market for Philanthropy” is part of the EFC’s ongoing advocacy and policy work for its members. For more information on the EFC’s seven key priorities, please download the EFC Strategic Framework 2016-2022