Pre-ERNOP conference event: Legal barriers to cross-border philanthropy in Europe


Pre-conference event at the 9th International Research Conference of the European Research Network on Philanthropy for researchers and practitioners interested in legal barriers to cross-border philanthropy in Europe and possible responses to them.

In this event participants will have an opportunity to learn how the lack of nonprofit oriented European regulatory measures and the existence of tax sovereignty of European countries inhibit cross-border philanthropy. Participants will also have an opportunity to discuss emerging issues affecting legal barriers to cross-border philanthropy in Europe.

After an informal lunch, participants will be invited to three consecutive afternoon sessions. The sessions will focus on (1) prospects for European regulatory measures addressing cross-border philanthropy and nonprofits, with a focus on European company law and the failed attempt by the European Commission to develop European Statutes relating to nonprofits, (2) the effects of country variations with respect to the tax benefits provided to nonprofits and their funders when they operate across borders and options for addressing such variations, including application of the non-discrimination principle established by the European Court of Justice and the related concept of comparability, and (3) emerging issues arising from developments that may either present new opportunities for addressing legal barriers to cross-border philanthropy or risk the creation of new such barriers, including both European and country-specific measures. For each session a moderator and one or more presenters with appropriate expertise will be invited from among researchers and practitioners working in this area to lead a discussion of these issues.


11:45-12:45: Lunch

13:00-14:15: Session One: European Regulatory Measures
Oonagh B. Breen, UCD Sutherland School of Law (moderator)
Dominque Jakob, Universität Zürich
Wino Van Veen, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

14:15-14:30: Coffee Break

14:30-15:45: Session Two: Taxation
Lloyd Hitoshi Mayer, University of Notre Dame (moderator)
Anne-Laure Paquot, Transnational Giving Europe
Giedre Lideikyte-Huber, Université de Genève
Hanna Surmatz, European Foundation Centre

15:45-16:00: Break

16:00-17:15: Session Three: Emerging Issues
Max von Abendroth, Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe (moderator)
Francesca Fanucci, European Center for Not-for-Profit Law
Hanna Surmatz, European Foundation Centre
Wino Van Veen, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

17:15-17:30: Wrap-up and concluding remarks

17:30-20:00: Free time

20:00 Pre-Main ERNOP Conference Get-Together


The pre-conference event will take place in the afternoon of July 3, 2019.


All the sessions will be held at the University of Basel, Kollegienhaus, Petersplatz 1, 4051 Basel. Lunch will be provided at the Mensa at the University of Basel, Bernoullistrasse 16, 4056 Basel, which is a five minute walk from the Kollegienhaus. The Pre-Main Conference Get-Together will be held in the Verso, which is also in the Kollegienhaus.


Researchers and practitioners from all nations and all disciplines are welcome to attend. To attend the pre-conference event it is not obligatory to attend the ERNOP conference.


European nonprofits and funders interested in cross-border philanthropy face several legal barriers to such activities. These challenges include the lack of nonprofit oriented European regulatory measures, particularly European legal vehicles, and the existence of Member State tax sovereignty that can make it difficult for nonprofits and funders engaged in cross-border activities to obtain tax benefits. At the same time, developments such as the next round of European Commission strategic plans may provide new opportunities for addressing these legal barriers, while other developments such as proposals to restrict foreign funding of domestic nonprofits may create additional barriers. Given the impact of legal barriers to cross-border philanthropy on nonprofits and society more generally, the time is ripe for researchers and practitioners to collectively consider these barriers and options for responding to them.


This pre-conference event is organized by Prof. Oonagh Breen from the University College Dublin, Prof. Lloyd Mayer from the University of Notre Dame (US), and Hanna Surmatz from the European Foundation Centre. The pre-conference event is financially made possible through the University of Notre Dame.

Participation will be free of charge, but registration by June 17th is required. Lunch and coffee breaks will be provided. If you want to attend the full ERNOP conference, please note that you will need to register for the ERNOP conference separately through