European cross-border associations


Non-profit organisations play an important role in many sectors across the European Union, whether charitable, educational, social or environmental. They are a vital instrument for strengthening the cohesion of European society and enabling people to play an active role in the lives of their communities.

In September 2023, the European Commission adopted a proposal to make it easier for non-profit organisations to operate in more than one Member State. This European Economic and Social Committee opinion fully supports the Commission's proposal and recognises the significant social and economic value that an additional legal form of a European cross-border association (ECBA) would make. The opinion also puts forth some practical suggestions.

In its opinion on the proposal, the EESC acknowledges that the current fragmented national systems for establishing and operating non-profit organisations prevents a level playing field in the internal market. Until now, non-profit organisations have often had to set up new legal entities to operate outside their Member State of origin, which incurs costs and creates bureaucratic hurdles.

The Commission's proposal lays down measures for a specific ECBA legal form in Member States' national legal systems, with a certificate that non-profit organisations would be able to obtain to operate freely across the Union.


Key points


  • welcomes the Commission's proposal to introduce a legal form of an ECBA in Member States' national legal systems. This will help reduce the legal and administrative burdens involved in recognising and establishing non-profit associations that carry out activities in another Member State;
  • proposes that all organisations that meet ECBA criteria and have their registered office in the European Union be able to acquire ECBA status, including organisations with executive body members that reside in non-EU countries, especially in European Economic Area countries;
  • recommends that the Commission and the Member States remove the legal and administrative obstacles that non-profit associations and entities face in accessing the internal market, so as to promote the role that these associations play in the EU to generate economic and social value.

Link to full opinion


Additional information

EESC section responsible: Single Market, Production and Consumption (INT)

Opinion type: mandatory consultation

Rapporteur: Giuseppe GUERINI (Diversity Europe – GR III – Italy)

Reference documents: COM(2023) 515 final 2023/0314 COD; COM(2023) 516 final 2023/0315 COD

Date of adoption in section: 20/12/2023

Result of the vote: 54 votes for, none against, with no abstentions

Date of adoption at plenary: 17/1/2024

Result of the vote: 225 votes for, 1 against, with 2 abstentions




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