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Brussels, 18 January 2011

Commission strengthens the European dimension of sport – Frequently Asked Questions

Why a Communication on sport?

The Lisbon Treaty (Article 165) granted the EU a mandate to support, coordinate and supplement sport policy initiatives by EU Member States. The proposals in the Communication were developed in line with the EU's new responsibilities and follow a consultation with sport stakeholders in the first half of 2010. This process highlighted sport’s cross-cutting nature in terms of its links with existing EU policies in areas such as education, health, internal market and competition law.

The Communication builds on the 2007 White Paper on Sport. It aims to strengthen sport at EU level through selected measures which will be of added value both for the sport sector and Member States. Sport can help the EU to reach its social and economic objectives set out in the Europe 2020 strategy on sustainable and inclusive growth, jobs and employability.

What is the objective?

The Commission wants to strengthen sport in Europe by proposing action at EU level. It intends to foster debate on European sporting issues, to address challenges sport is facing, and to further develop the European dimension in sport.

Why is EU action needed?

The Commission is proposing action in areas where challenges cannot be sufficiently dealt with by Member States acting alone. Action at EU level will encourage stronger links between organisations and actors in and outside sport, including public authorities at all levels, national and international sport organisations, sport-related organisations, and educational bodies. The Commission's proposals will enhance the exchange of know-how and good practices in different areas relating to sport and physical activity. This means more opportunities for cooperation and identifying solutions that may not have been evident at a national level.

Who will benefit?

EU citizens, Member States and the sport movement will benefit. For example, the development of national guidelines on physical activity based on the EU's Guidelines will help strengthen national sports policies, contribute to the aims of the sport movement and have a positive impact on the life and health of citizens. The Commission has already co-financed projects in this area.

The results of these projects will lead to the exchange of good practices and to more evidence-based action which will encourage more active lifestyles and contribute to the fight against obesity-related illnesses.

What is the difference compared to the 2007 White Paper on Sport?

This Communication is the first policy document for EU cooperation in the field of sport since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. It builds on the 2007 White Paper on Sport, which created an EU policy framework in this area. The Commission will continue to implement the White Paper on Sport while developing additional actions based on the new Communication, aimed at enhancing the societal, economic and organisational dimension of sport.

Which sport model is supported by the Communication?

The Communication supports a model of sport based on principles of good governance, dialogue amongst stakeholders and between sports organisations and public authorities. To achieve this, the Commission aims at a balanced approach that takes advantage of the new possibilities offered by the Treaty, particularly with regard to the specific nature of sport, while fully respecting EU law.

Does the Communication address the "specificity of sport"?

The specific nature of sport (rules, structure, etc.) is now enshrined in the EU's primary law (Art. 165 Lisbon Treaty). The Communication recognises the specificity of sport but does not consider that it justifies a general exemption from the application of EU law. Detailed guidance on the specificity of sport was provided in the 2007 White Paper on Sport. The Commission remains ready to provide assistance and guidance, on a theme-per-theme basis. For example, a Staff Working Document on sport and EU free movement rules accompanies the new Communication. The aim is to achieve a balanced approach that takes account of the specific nature of sport, but continues to respect EU internal market law and its fundamental freedoms.

Why did the Commission not propose an EU Sport Programme?

The Commission is currently carrying out preparatory actions. Projects selected in 2009 and 2010 received funding of around €6.5 million. The Commission will continue with these preparatory actions in 2011. It will evaluate them and then determine the best form of future EU action in this area.

Does the Communication cover gambling and betting in sport?

Various aspects of gambling and sport betting are particularly relevant for sport (for example, integrity, sport betting rights, sustainable financing of sport). The Commission addresses them in this Communication. It is aware of the sport sector's concerns regarding developments in national gambling markets and will take account of sport's interests in this area.

What about the recognition of sport organisers' related rights?

The Commission welcomes the principle that the organisers of sport events are entitled to control and commercially exploit events. However the commercial exploitation of professional sport should be accompanied by strong redistribution and solidarity mechanisms. Therefore the Communication recommends the collective selling of media rights by sport associations, for example.

Linked to the issue of sports organisers' rights is the topic of other commercial rights, such as Intellectual Property Rights managed by sports rights owners. The sport movement should be closely involved in the Commission's work in the area of intellectual property rights, and notably in the ongoing discussions on the EU's Digital Agenda.

What does the Commission propose in the field of anti-doping?

The Commission wants to strengthen EU action in the area of anti-doping and proposes to examine the possibility of action in the field of criminal justice, especially as regards trade in doping substances by organised networks and related activities. Support will be provided to transnational anti-doping networks focusing on preventive measures targeting amateur sport, sport for all and fitness. The Commission considers that the EU could become a signatory of the Anti-Doping Convention of the Council of Europe.

What does the Communication propose in terms of education and training in sport?

The Communication confirms dual careers, i.e. the combination of sports training and general education, as one of the Commission's priorities in the area of education and sport. The Commission already financed four projects in this field as part of the 2009 preparatory action for sport and proposes to develop European guidelines in this area.

Does the Communication propose to regulate sports agents?

No. This issue will be debated separately in the coming months. The Commission intends to organise a conference to further explore possible ways for the EU and the sport movement (federations, leagues, clubs, players and agents) to improve the situation with regard to the activities of sports agents.

What will happen next?

The Communication includes a wide range of ideas and actions which must now be further developed and implemented. When and how will depend upon the political process which has just started. The role of the European Parliament and the Council is very important in establishing these priorities and taking decisions.

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