EUROPE – European foundations could be the losers if the European Foundation Statute (EFS) does not become reality in the near future, two influential lobby groups have warned.

The European Foundation Centre (EFC) and Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe (DAFNE) have issued a joint statement urging the speedy adoption of the European Commission regulation proposed a year ago.

An EFS would provide a single set of rules for European public benefit foundations, helping to reduce costs and legal uncertainty where they work across borders.

This would enable them to pool and scale up their resources and stimulate cross-border donations.

The EFS could also provide a level of transparency and accountability to individual foundations set up under its framework.

However, the statement said: "Twelve months have passed since the regulation was put forward, yet little has happened on the legislative front. The EU's advisory bodies are clearly in favour of the initiative. The sector is now awaiting a vote in favour of the statute by the European Parliament in the coming months."

The statement continued: "The Commission proposal has also been shared with the Council of Ministers, representing the governments of the member states, for review and approval. While a first reading of the proposal was concluded by the Council competent working group in 2012, it would seem that for the group there was still a question mark regarding the interest of the sector in the proposal.

"On the contrary, there should be no doubt as to the sector's commitment. Foundations are very supportive of the proposals and are mobilised."

However, next year's European elections pose a potential deadline, said Emmanuelle Faure, European affairs senior officer at the EFC.

"Any piece of legislation takes time, especially when there are 27, and soon 28, member states that have to discuss the text before the agreement can be finalised, as well as the review by the European Parliament," she said.

"But the clock is ticking, and we will have European Parliament general elections next year, with a change of the EU executive as well.

"We wish to ensure the file is given due attention and adopted during the current legislature, avoiding the risk of postponing the final decision for another five years."  

The EFC has been contacted by around 50 foundations and other organisations about setting up a European foundation, and it believes these cases are just the tip of the iceberg.

"We know current initiatives have been stopped, abandoned or put on hold due to the lack of the instrument," said Faure. "This means fewer resources going to charitable work, at a time when it is deeply needed."

The European Parliament's draft report on the European Foundation Statute (EFS) has been promised by June 2013 at the latest.