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Member of the European Commission responsible for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth

New agreement on contracts rights of the footballers – Introductory remarks

Meeting of social partners of professional football sector - Signing Ceremony

Brussels, 19 April 2012

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am delighted to be here today for the signature of this agreement. It represents an important milestone in relations between football stakeholders at EU level, and a step towards further cooperation in the football family.

This agreement is the first to be negotiated since the establishment of a social dialogue committee for football in 2008. It took almost four years of discussions and negotiations but finally, European Football has given itself a solid basis for a set of minimum standards for contracts of professional footballers throughout Europe.

This is no mean achievement. The conditions of professional football vary greatly across Europe, and rich and developed championships exist along with situations of precariousness and lack of resources.

For this reason, I especially welcome the fact that the Agreement will be implemented not just in the 27 EU Member States, but in all the 53 member associations of UEFA.

Its wide territorial coverage will help to ensure that the same rules and standards apply to clubs and players all over Europe.

I would therefore like to take this opportunity to thank all the people whose hard work and dedication have made this agreement possible.

Let me first express my gratitude to Mr Platini and to UEFA, who chaired of the Committee, giving it the necessary impetus and steering the work towards today's successful outcome.

UEFA's signing of the agreement is a clear demonstration that Europe's football governing body is living up to its task of promoting the highest standards of governance in the "beautiful game".

I would also like to thank the social partners who, through hard work and negotiations, have been able to overcome their initial differences and reach an agreement which marks an important stage in labour relations in professional football.

I particularly appreciate the role that the players, the leagues and the clubs have played around the negotiating table. Monsieur Piat, Monsieur Thiriez, Herr Rummenigge: I would like to congratulate you for this result, and offer a warm encouragement for the future implementation of the agreement.

And finally, I would also like to congratulate my colleague Commissioner Andor and his services for their support throughout the process. The commission will continue to provide assistance in the implementation phase.

Let me conclude by once again stressing the importance that the Commission attributes to social dialogue in football, and in sport in general.

We all know that sport is a special sector. Its specificity has been recognised by the EU institutions and is now enshrined in the Treaty.

And it is precisely sport's specificity that makes social dialogue one of the most effective instruments for sports stakeholders: to conclude agreements which recognise the specificity of their sector, whilst remaining firmly anchored in EU law.

I therefore invite you all, social partners and UEFA, to continue your work around the social dialogue table, because that is where the issues that are of concern to you can be discussed, and where solutions can be found.

I wish you all a fruitful cooperation for the future and I can assure you that you can count on my support in this process.

Thank you for your attention.

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