The European Economic and Social Committee has called on the EU Member States to establish an enabling environment for philanthropy in line with EU freedoms and fundamental rights, and recommends that they recognise and promote philanthropy as a recognised and socially responsible form of contributing to the public good or the welfare of others.

In its first opinion entirely dedicated to philanthropy, the EESC also recommends that facilitating cross-border philanthropic activities should be a priority for both the EU and the Member States. However, the Committee has pointed out that philanthropy cannot be a substitute for a welfare state and strong social protection systems based on tax justice and effective employment policies. Instead, these should be strengthened and further developed, which would also improve the capability of philanthropic organisations to "fill in the gaps" and complement funding in niche areas where public support is lacking. "We fully acknowledge the complementarity and innovative added value that philanthropy can bring to social cohesion by boosting common values and making our society more resilient," the rapporteur of the opinion, Mr Petru Sorin Dandea said. Philanthropic action should remain transparent, he stressed. Figures show that philanthropy has rapidly grown in Europe over the last three decades, with philanthropic contributions in Europe amounting to at least EUR 87.5 billion annually, and this is only a conservative estimate. (ll)