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Commission strengthens EU role in sports

19 January 2011
by Ina Dimireva -- last modified 19 January 2011

The European Commission has adopted new proposals aimed at strengthening the societal, economic and organisational dimensions of sport. Athletes, sport organisations and citizens are expected to benefit from the plans, which flow from the EU's new role under the Lisbon Treaty to support and coordinate sport policy in the Member States.


Action is foreseen in areas where challenges cannot be sufficiently dealt with at national level alone. The Commission's proposals follow a consultation with Member States and sport stakeholders and take account of the experience gained in implementing the 2007 White Paper on Sport. In 2009-2010 the Commission provided more than €6 million to support around 40 sport projects aimed at promoting health, social inclusion, volunteering, access for the disabled, gender equality and the fight against doping. Twelve new projects will be launched in 2011.

Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, said: "Sport is important for Europe's economy and a key component of its social model. The measures we have adopted today highlight sport's contribution to our society and will help improve the way sport is run."

The Commission's proposals, contained in a paper entitled "Developing the European Dimension in Sport", cover three main areas: the societal role of sport, its economic dimension, and the organisation of sport. Each chapter proposes actions to be carried out by the Commission and the Member States.

Regarding the societal role of sport, the paper proposes to:

  • Consider EU accession to the Anti-Doping Convention of the Council of Europe;
  • Develop European guidelines on combined sports training and general education;
  • Develop and implement security arrangements and safety requirements for international sport events;
  • Continue progress toward national guidelines based on the EU Physical Activity Guidelines;
  • Develop standards for accessibility of sport organisations, activities, events and venues through the European Disability Strategy;
  • Promote women's access to leadership positions in sport.

As concerns the economic dimension of sport the Commission calls for:

  • Sport associations to establish mechanisms for the collective selling of media rights to ensure adequate redistribution of revenues;
  • More focus on sport-related intellectual property rights;
  • Exchange of good practices for transparent and sustainable financing of sport;
  • Monitoring of the application of state aid law in the field of sport;
  • Full exploitation of sport-related aspects of the Structural Funds;
  • Work towards comparable statistical data on sport for all Member States.

On organisation of sport, the paper proposes to:

  • Promote good governance in sport while taking into account its specific nature;
  • Launch a study on transfer rules and provide guidance on that basis;
  • Issue guidance on how to reconcile EU rules on the free movement of citizens with the organisation of competitions in individual sports on a national basis;
  • Consider further action regarding the activities of sports agents;
  • Support social partners and sport organisations to create an EU-level social dialogue for the sport and leisure sector.

Next steps

The paper, or communication as it is known, will now be sent to the Council and European Parliament for discussion and follow-up in the Member States.

Lisbon Treaty and sport

Article 165 of the Lisbon Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union has granted the EU the mandate to support, coordinate and supplement sport policy initiatives of Member States. The Commission aims to enhance the European dimension of sport in close cooperation with Member States, sport organisations, civil society and citizens.

More information on the EU's Sport website

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