Vassiliou puts sports on political agenda
By Dafydd ab Iago | Tuesday 18 January 2011
The European Commission adopted, on 18 January, a communication aimed at developing the European dimension in sport. It examines challenges facing sports in three main areas: the societal role of sport, the economic dimension, and the organisation of sport. Sports Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou is, in effect, proposing an action plan for sports to be carried out by both the Commission and member states.
Behind the proposals are the EU’s new powers in the field under the Lisbon Treaty. Article 165 of the treaty granted the EU a mandate to support, coordinate and supplement sport policies undertaken by member states. However, the Commission is keen to stress that action is only foreseen in areas where challenges cannot be sufficiently dealt with at national level alone.
“Sport is important for Europe’s economy and a key component of its social model. The measures we have adopted highlight sport’s contribution to our society and will help improve the way sport is run,” said Vassiliou.
Some of the more prominent proposals listed in the communication are: EU accession to the Anti-Doping Convention of the Council of Europe; developing European guidelines on combined sports training and general education; and developing and implementing security arrangements and safety requirements for international sport events. The Commission also wants to promote women’s access to leadership positions in sport and continue progress toward national guidelines based on the EU’s physical activity guidelines.
As for economics, the Commission is considering issues, such as sport-related intellectual property rights, exchange of good practices for transparent and sustainable financing of sport as well as monitoring the application of state aid law in the field of sport. The Commission also talks of full exploitation of sport-related aspects of the Structural Funds as well as working towards comparable statistical data on sport for all member states. The Commission has also launched an EU study on the funding of grassroots sport. It expects the study to also throw light on issues such as media and gambling revenues. Nonetheless, the Commission is non-committal when it comes to the issue of sustainable funding for sport from private and public sources. It merely notes that financial stability of the sport sector should be taken into account when further addressing the provision of gambling services in the internal market.
As for organisation of sport, the Commission notably promises to launch a study on transfer rules as well as to provide ‘guidance’
(1). This study would include 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. The Commission also will also turn to the issues arising from activities of sports agents.
For 2009-2010, the Commission gave over €6 million to some 40 sport projects. These promoted health, social inclusion, volunteering, access for the disabled, gender equality and the fight against doping. A further twelve new projects will be launched in 2011.
The communication is available at www.europolitics.info > Search = 286536
The Commission talks of sport as a contributor to its ‘Europe 2020’ strategy. Officials note that sport is a large and fast-growing sector of the economy. It makes an important contribution to growth and jobs, with value added and employment effects exceeding average growth rates. Major sport events and competitions also provide strong potential for increased development of tourism in Europe. Using a broad definition that includes sport-related tourism, production, retail, education, betting and more, officials believe that sport may amount to more than 4% of total EU value added.(1) A staff working document on sport and EU free movement rules accompanies the new communication.