65 – Legal forms of Not-for-Profit Organisations in Europe


In the world of economists a lawyer feels a bit strange. How does an economist look to a lawyer? Is he a formalist, some one who focuses on forms? And is an economist in his own eyes some one who is interested in facts in stead of forms, words, rules etc., in which the lawyer is interested?

If this how you as an economist look to it, I would like to make some corrections on this view. Take for instance the position of shareholders in a company. Economists are inclined to say that shareholders are the owners of the company. Legally this is incorrect.

The contribution of the shareholder in the company has become the property of the company (legal person). The shareholder certainly receives some rights in relation to the company, but he is not the legal owner of it. The company as a legal person is a subject, not an object of law.

I will focus on the NPO-forms in the European Union. This Union is strongly directed to liberalization of the economy in Europe. An dominant aim is the harmonization of company law. The legal forms for NPOs as such have not the interest of the EU. Commercial NPOs doenjoy yet the freedom of establishment within the EU.

Keywords: Legal forms of Not-for-Profit Organisations, Europe, law