Vassiliou crafting first proper EU sports policy
By Dafydd ab Iago | Friday 14 January 2011
On 18 January, Sports Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou will set out, in Strasbourg, her ideas on using the EU’s new supporting, coordinating and supplementing competence for sport. Article 165 of the Lisbon Treaty enables actions promoting European sporting issues and developing the European dimension in sport. Centrepiece in Vassiliou’s communication is identification of targeted actions where the EU can provide “high added value”. Given current budgetary constraints, the first real EU-funded sports programmes outlined in the action plan may only appear under the next financial perspectives, from 2014.
The Commission’s detailed action plan lists very specific steps, based around Article 165. Ideas to be proposed include health-enhancing physical activity; EU accession to the Anti-Doping Convention of the Council of Europe; representation in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA); criminal justice harmonisation in doping; sports training and education; qualifications; social inclusion; gender equality; integration of immigrants and minority groups, fighting violence, racism, xenophobia, homophobia and related intolerance.
There will also be timid debate on the economic issues. The Commission, for instance, will examine how to ensure that sport-related intellectual property rights are respected. Other important aspects to be considered include the financial returns to sport from gambling and betting activities. To what extent do sports ministers want to contribute to a review of the common VAT system and its impact on sport? Should the Commission, if necessary, formulate guidance? The Commission is also monitoring the application of EU state aid rules to sport. Are there limits to public aid in this sector? Organisational questions are not forgotten in the communication. These include good governance, standards, free movement and nationality of sports people, transfer rules, sport agents and match fixing.
Originally planned to be published in early December 2010, under the Belgian Presidency, the Commission’s communication should form the basis for discussion at the informal meeting of sports ministers taking place on 22-23 February as well as the two sports Councils being held on 14 February and 2-3 May.
Article 165 lists specific issues , such as the social and educational function of sport; voluntary activities; specificity of sport; fairness and openness in competitions; physical and moral integrity of sports people; cooperation between sports organisations and third countries. Other new or modified provisions of the Lisbon Treaty also impact on sport, including Articles 82-86 (judicial cooperation in criminal matters), 152 (social dialogue), 15 (services of general economic interest), Protocol 26 (services of general interest) and Declaration 21 (personal data).