EUROPE - The European Commission (EC) has said it will publish a regulation on a European Foundation Statute by the end of 2011.

The commitment was contained in the EC's communication 'Towards a Single Market Act' published at the end of October, which contained 50 proposals intended to improve the transaction of business within the single European market.

It marks the first time the EC has set a deadline for completing an impact assessment for the proposed statute and creating a pan-European vehicle for foundations.

At present, there are around 110,000 public benefit foundations across Europe, spending more than Ä100bn a year on their activities.

In its communication, the EC pointed out that economic activity in the European not-for-profit sector was structured around a variety of different legal vehicles, such as foundations, co-operatives and mutual associations.

The EC will propose measures intended to improve the quality of these legal structures so they can function as efficiently as possible and develop easily within the single market.

The EC said: "Foundation activities have undergone significant developments over recent years, and they enable ambitious objectives to be achieved in areas where European creativity and innovation have become crucial to the competitiveness of the single market in a global world, particularly in the area of research."

It continued: "Administrative costs, registration in another country, the burden of proof imposed on foundations from a member state seeking to become established in another member state and the problems involved in pooling financial resources on a cross-border basis within the EU are obstacles that impede the development of foundations in Europe and that a regulation on a European Foundation Statute would address."

The EC will also be publishing a Green Paper on a Statute for a European Co-operative Society and carry out a study on mutual associations - particularly their cross-border activities - next year.

The European Foundation Centre (EFC) has welcomed the publication of a deadline.

Gerry Salole, chief executive at the EFC, said: "We now want to ensure the Commission will deliver on its promises, and we will pursue our co-operation with its services to help develop an effective EU regulation."

Last year, the EC carried out a feasibility study, as well as a public consultation, on the need for, and impact of, a statute for foundations.

In a separate move to boost the legislative process, a written declaration was launched on 10 November calling on the EC to table proposals for European statutes for foundations, associations and mutual societies.

The declaration was made by five MEPs supported by the EFC, European Alliance for the Statute of the European Association, the Association Internationale de la Mutualite and the Association of Mutual Insurers and Insurance Co-operatives in Europe.

The declaration must be signed by a majority of MEPs by 17 February 2011 to be forwarded to the European Commission.

More details can be found here.