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The new supporting competences of the EU


The Treaty of Lisbon creates four new areas of competence in which the European Union (EU) may intervene: civil protection, administrative cooperation, tourism and sport.

The EU’s new competences in these areas are supporting competences. The EU does not acquire any additional legislative powers insofar as it can act only to support the actions of Member States, without being able to harmonise national law.

Moreover, the EU already intervened in these areas by means of cross-cutting policies. From now on, the Treaty of Lisbon clarifies the EU’s objectives and action by creating specific legal bases for these four areas.


The Treaty of Lisbon endeavours to improve the EU’s ability to deal with natural or man-made disasters. Article 196 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU enables the EU to adopt measures relating to:

  • risk prevention;
  • preparing civil-protection personnel;
  • responding to natural or man-made disasters;
  • international cooperation between national civil-protection services;
  • consistency in international civil-protection work.

Moreover, these provisions on civil protection are to be linked with the solidarity clause in Article 222 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU. This clause enables the EU to assist a Member State which has been the victim of a terrorist attack or a natural or man-made disaster.


Administrative cooperation between Member States becomes a competence of the EU (Article 197 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU). The aim is to guarantee the effective implementation of European law, particularly by improving the effectiveness of Member States’ administrations. The EU can therefore adopt new measures aimed at facilitating the exchange of good practice between Member States and the introduction of training programmes.

However, the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU places two restrictions on the exercise of this new power:

  • a Member State may not, under any circumstances, be obliged to avail itself of the support of the Union;
  • the Union may not adopt measures relating to the harmonisation of the laws and regulations of the Member States.


Tourism was already present in several European policies, such as regional policy and employment policy. From now on, the Treaty creates a specific legal basis in order to enable the EU to intervene in this area (Article 195 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU).

EU action can therefore have two objectives:

  • creating a favorable environment for the development of undertakings in the tourism sector;
  • promoting cooperation between the Member States, particularly through the exchange of good practice.


The Treaty of Lisbon confirms the EU’s competence in the area of sport. However, it does not create a specific article but incorporates a legal basis relating to sport into the section of the Treaties devoted to education, vocational training and young people.

Article 165 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU states that the EU’s objective is to promote European sporting issues. Specifically, the EU will be able for example to support Member States’ actions aimed at protecting the physical and moral integrity of sportsmen and sportswomen or actions aimed at combating doping in sport.

The EU will also be able to develop cooperation with international bodies in the area of sport.

Last updated: 15.06.2010
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