Contributions from philanthropic sources in Europe amount to almost EUR 90 billion annually, but unlike commercial companies, philanthropic foundations or private donors cannot enjoy the benefits of the European single market, making it difficult for them to extend their charitable work across borders.
Yet philanthropic activities in Europe have gained in importance and could be used to complement funding in many areas where public support is lacking, it was revealed at the hearing European Philanthropy: an untapped potential, held by the EESC on 16 January.
The hearing brought together a number of philanthropic organisations and individuals, whose views will provide valuable input into an opinion on European philanthropy being drawn up by the EESC at the request of the Romanian Presidency of the EU.
"We will be calling for a legal framework to cover the development of philanthropic activities and to give philanthropic organisations the same status as that enjoyed by commercial companies," said Petru Dandea, rapporteur for the opinion.
There are almost 150 000 public benefit foundations in Europe with a financial commitment of EUR 87 billion, which is more than the revenue budget of as many as 15 Member States.
The EESC will also argue that philanthropic activities should be transparent and clearly defined and that philanthropy should by no means replace public welfare systems or facilitate tax evasion. (ll)