Friends of the Earth Trust will continue to campaign in favour of the UK remaining in the EU, the charity’s Trustees confirmed today.
The announcement follows the welcome publication today of clarified and updated guidance by the Charity Commission, following strong criticisms by lawyers and charities on their earlier guidance. Friends of the Earth had written to the Prime Minister complaining about the Charity Commission guidelines, pointing out that they run counter to his stated desire that “that businesses, NGOs and other organisations won’t hold back” on the EU debate.
The Charity Commission updated guidance published today give the green light to charities to campaign for ‘in’ or ‘out’ if it is relevant to charitable objectives – although they still unhelpfully states that this will be “by exception”.
After considering the March 7th Charity Commission guidelines, the Trustees of Friends of the Earth Trust has already concluded:
“[…] that the evidence clearly demonstrates that membership of the EU has a critical role in continued advancement of the charity’s charitable objectives, contributing to protection of the UK’s environment, habitats and species, and benefiting the public by protecting human health from environmental harm such as air pollution (which prematurely kills tens of thousands of people in the UK each year).”
Roger Clarke, Chair of Friends of the Earth Trust, said: “The EU has been good for the UK’s environment over recent decades and leaving would put in jeopardy many of these gains. The Trustees of Friends of the Earth fully considered the new guidelines issued by the Charity Commission. Our conclusion is that it would be remiss of Friends of the Earth not to speak out in favour of continued membership.”
Craig Bennett, CEO at Friends of the Earth said: “EU membership has led to significant benefits for our environment – that’s why we are in favour of staying in. We will not be intimidated against speaking out by the media or politicians.”