2. The non-profit single market
Today, in 2048, we have reached a point in Europe where there is as much awareness, as much focus on, and equal financing instruments and budgets for projects pertaining to our coexistence as there is for projects in technology, natural sciences, and medical research. A wealth of opportunities has finally opened up to the civic innovation and non-profit sector.
You remember people who had been involved in initiatives ranging from Refugees Welcome, to Amnesty International, and to the political and social innovation for a such as Geneva’s LIFT Conference, Vienna’s Pioneers Festival or Impact Hub Network, or, the Ashoka Network. In late 2018, they joined forces in a campaign for the non-profit single market. Why? Well, they had realized that the four freedoms of the EU single market apply only to economic transactions, not to non-profit work or benefit. Europe needs a non-profit single market just like it has a for-profit single market! Until then, every non-profit product, service, association, or community foundation had to be registered separatedly in all EU member states. These non-profit oriented organisations, however, lacked the resources, personnel, and know-how to deal with the peculiarities of each country’s non-profit sector.
In retrospect, it was pretty astounding that the citizens of Europe had never gotten upset about this before. Eventually, until 2019, EU Commissioner Frans Timmermans reformed the European Citizens’ Initiative. A statute for European associations was created, as well as a non-profit private limited company for the whole of the EU and a statute for European foundations. Today, in 2048, the single market’s four freedoms apply to the whole non-profit sector, from human rights groups to social innovation players.
By the way: for many years now, it is citizens (not national governments) who decide in participatory budgeting processes where the EU budget of one trillion euros shall go first.
Do you remember the comparison made with CERN back then? Everyone praised news coming out of CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, with its vast particle accelerator in Switzerland. We asked in the 2020s: Why don’t we have a CERN for our questions on government and social organisations in Europe? Why was public money spent on humanistic, socio-scientific and socio-political concerns so tiny in comparison to technology and natural sciences research?