16 November 09
With the last stumbling block – the Czech presidential challenge – to the Lisbon Treaty (“the Treaty”) now resolved, the Treaty is now able to move forward to formal implementation; this is expected to be in early 2010.
It may be recalled that amongst its very numerous provisions, Article 165 of the Lisbon Treaty gives the EU soft powers on sports policy.
For some championing a more formal partnership, this is a groundbreaking step for sport at a European level. Thus far there has been no formal legal grounding for sport in its own right, which has in turn tied the hands of the policy-makers, and necessitated an informal approach to the area. It has also meant that budget streams have at the most trickled in the direction of sport.
Instead, the Commission’s sport-related activities have been based on the interaction between sport and other competences, such as competition, the Internal Market, justice, freedom and security, health, etc.
With the new competence in the near future, the Commission is now starting its preparations for the new era, including developing a proper sports programme which is expected to launch in 2012.
There is likely to be considerable dialogue and consultation between the Commission and sport stakeholders over the coming months. This will cover the implementation of Europe’s sports provisions during the first half of 2010 but also - (and critically) - the proposed areas of involvement which have not yet been considered by the Commission in its 2007 White Paper, but which are now allowed under Article 165.
New areas of interest by the Commission could include intellectual property, match-fixing and international co-operation.
However, even after the entry into force of the Treaty, the vast majority of sport-related competences and actions will remain in the hands of the Member States and of sports organisations. Indeed, it is envisaged by the Commission that the main benefit of Europe will be to facilitate the exchange of good practice and other supporting activities at European level – a practice that has already begun to some extent without that formal competence.
To share your views on the new Treaty competence, please visit the discussion board.