MEPs vote to remove barriers to cross-border foundation work
A large majority of Members of the European Parliament voted in support of a resolution for a European Foundation Statute. This will make it easier for foundations to support citizens’ initiatives across Europe. The proposed Statute must now be adopted unanimously by the Council.
Evelyn Regner, vice-chair of the Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament (JURI) welcomed the strong show of support by the European Parliament and called on the Council to move the file forward quickly: “It would be very welcome if an agreement could be reached during the current legislature,” she said.
Gerry Salole, the European Foundation Centre (EFC) chief executive added: “This is a critical step in the final stretch of what has been a long process to give European citizens the tools they need to fulfil their philanthropic impulses and to fully benefit from the philanthropy of others.”
There are an estimated 110,000 public-benefit foundations in Europe. They support individuals and civil society organisations as well as run their own programmes, research institutes, hospitals and museums.
Europe’s foundations have an annual combined expenditure of over 100 billion euros. They are increasingly seeking to engage in transnational European initiatives but their efforts are hampered by a European legal and operating environment that does not afford them the advantages of the Single Market. Many European initiatives are delayed or abandoned due to a number of barriers. These include high legal and administration costs 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 recognised as the best policy option to overcome these hurdles. 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. The latest call for support was an open letter to the current and forthcoming EU Presidencies.