Public-benefit foundations play an important role in many facets of society across the EU as well as having significant economic value. They have grown in number considerably in recent years, with many wishing to maximise private-sector support through operating in more than one Member State. Differences in legal and fiscal practices and a heavy administrative burden have however frustrated this aim.
In this respect, the differential tax treatment of foreign and domestic foundations and donors has proved particularly problematic. The Court of Justice of the European Union has been called on to give guidance on this issue, and the Commission has also launched infringement procedures in cases in which discriminatory laws have been identified. However, this has not found a sufficient solution.
In February, the Commission published a proposal for a Statute for a European Foundation. Its aim is to reduce costs and uncertainty and to boost foundations’ profiles and funding potential via a “European label”.
Stakeholders’ have generally reacted positively to the proposal. However the exclusion of associations and mutual societies, which the European Parliament had supported, has been criticised.