Why do sports need to focus on Brussels?

April 21, 2008

The European Commission states on its website:

Although not directed specifically at sport, many of the rules, policies and programmes of the European Union have an impact on the sports world or are of interest to it.

Case law from the European Court of Justice has also, since the 1970s, impacted on sport. The most famous case is perhaps Bosman, concerning free movement of professional footballers. The Kolpak ruling has influenced cricket and rugby. Some argue that the Meca-Medina ruling (concerning swimming) may be even more profound in the long-term, making the rules in many sports vulnerable to legal attack.

We now have an emerging, discrete EU policy on sport. The publication in summer 2007 by the European Commission of the first ever White Paper on Sport is an important step in this emerging process, as is the inclusion of the first ever reference to sport in EU primary legislation in the new EU Reform Treaty stating as follows:

Article 149 shall be amended as follows:

(a) in paragraph 1, the following subparagraph shall be inserted:
‘The Union shall contribute to the promotion of European sporting issues, while taking account of the specific nature of sport, its structures based on voluntary activity and its social and educational function.’;

(b) in paragraph 2, fifth indent, the words ‘and encouraging the participation of young people in democratic life in Europe,’ shall be added at the end; the following shall be inserted as the last indent:

— developing the European dimension in sport, by promoting fairness and openness in sporting competitions and cooperation between bodies responsible for sports, and by protecting the physical and moral integrity of sportsmen and sportswomen, especially the youngest sportsmen and sportswomen.’;

What will the new EU sports policy mean for sports in the future, particularly if, as expected, the Reform Treaty is ratified by the end of 2008? The true answer, at present, is that nobody really knows. To ensure EU sports policy develops in the way sports bodies actually want, all sports, especially those with Europe-wide presence, should be developing their EU strategies.

The key steps in ‘developing an EU strategy’ are to:

  • Monitor relevant EU policy developments
  • Inform your members, partners and stakeholders on these issues
  • Develop your position and objectives on relevant EU policy developments
  • Form alliances with other organisations sharing the same positions and objectives
  • Communicate these positions and lobby relevant targets in the EU institutions

Golf Europa can help you to develop and implement your EU strategy.

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