EU agency report calls for EU ”fundamental freedoms” to be made applicable to institutional philanthropy

On 19 January, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) launched its Challenges facing civil society organisations working on human rights in the EUreport. At an event in Brussels, at the European Economic and Social Committee on 19 January, FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty presented the report which looks at the different types of challenges faced by civil society organisations, including institutional philanthropy in the European Union (EU). Given the vital role civil society plays in upholding democratic processes, the report calls on decision makers to ensure the important work of civil society is not undermined through policy and legal changes.

Member States should abide by the laws, including international standards that recommend civil society participation in policy cycles. The report, in its key findings and opinions, explicitly refers to the need for an enabling environment for civil society organisations and stresses that as part of the ”free movement of capital, civil society organisations should be free to solicit, receive and utilise funding…also from institutional and individual donorsThe European Commission should consider adapting guidance for Member States clarifying the applicability of the four fundamental freedoms under the common market regime to CSOs including foundations and philanthropic organisations”.

Making reference to the EFC comparative highlights of foundation laws, and the joint EFC/Transnational Giving Europe (TGE) 2014 and 2017 studies, the report (on page 31) explicitly states that ”for private donors and institutional philanthropy to maximise their full potential, a favourable legal and tax environment is needed”.

The EFC had provided input to the FRA study over the past year and attended a two day expert meeting in May 2017 in Vienna. This FRA report gives institutional backing to the EFC and DAFNE joint study findings on the need for a more enabling space for institutional philanthropy, which was published earlier in the same week.

Please see the press release here:

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