Last developments in European sports policies: towards a real European sport awareness?

Alessandro Tomaselli

Researcher of European Union Law


Abstract: Over the years, the competences of the European Union in the field of sport have gradually increased until they have found formal entry into the functions of the EU by virtue of the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. This official recognition responds to an ever-increasing consideration by the European legal system not only regarding economic aspects linked to sport but of the social, physical and mental benefits of sport also and, on this basis, this contribution aims to investigate the emergence within the EU of a genuine awareness in relation to the practice of sport in view of the most recent legislative interventions and the Court of Justice on the subject.


Keywords: European Union, Sport, Health



1.            Introduction


          The EU acquired specific sports expertise for the first time in December 2009 when the Lisbon Treaty came into force: Article 6, letter e), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFUE) stipulates that the EU has powers to carry out actions to support or complete Member States' action in the field of sport, while article 165 of the TFUE contains the detailed aspects of sports policy. The Union 'contributes to the promotion of European sports profiles, taking into account its specificities, its structures based on volunteering and its social and educational function'. Article 165, paragraph 2, aims to 'develop the European dimension of sport by promoting fairness and openness in sports competitions and cooperation between sports bodies and protecting the physical and moral integrity of sportsmen, particularly young people among them'. The EU is responsible for developing evidence-based policies, as well as promoting cooperation and managing initiatives to support physical activity and sport in Europe.

          Over the years at European level there has been an increasing awareness of sport not just as an economic factor (sport has a growing impact both on the European Union economy and on society as a whole. Over 7 million people work in sport-related jobs, and sport-related goods and services amount to nearly 3 % of total EU gross value added) but as an instrument of social integration, for fighting discrimination and xenophobia, building a sense of belonging to a community and above all as a fundamental element in order to bring psycho-physical well-being to European citizens and therefore to significantly improve their quality of life also.

          In this sense it sould be reminded that The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies physical inactivity as the fourth risk factor for global mortality, provoking 6 % of cases of coronary heart disease, 7 % of type 2 diabetes, 10 % of breast cancer and 10 % of colon cancer – causing an estimated 3.2 million deaths globally.

          Worryingly, the results of the 2018 Eurobarometer survey on sport and physical activity show that nearly half of respondents (46 %) never exercise or play sport (see Map 1) – up 7 % from 2009. Moreover, data from research based on WHO estimates reveal that a quarter of European adults and four-fifths of European adolescents are insufficiently active. The report also affirms that each year, physical inactivity claims over 500 000 lives across Europe and generates more than €80 billion in economic costs for the EU-28. This amount represents 6.2 % of all European health spending, €5 billion more than the annual global spend on cancer drugs, and half of Ireland or Portugal's annual GDP. Conservative estimates put the annual cost of physical inactivity in 2030 at over €125 billion (in 2012 prices).


          Although the Treaties do not include specific legal competence in sport before 2009, the Commission laid the groundwork for an EU sport policy with the White Paper on Sport (2007) and its 'Pierre de Coubertin' action plan launched in 2008.

          The White Paper on Sport presented by the Commission in July 2007 was the first 'global initiative' on sport within the EU: through the implementation of the proposed measures, the Commission has gathered useful elements on the issues to be addressed in the future. The aim of the document is to strengthen the social role of sport, promote public health through physical activity, relaunch voluntary activities, enhance the economic dimension of sport and the free movement of players, combat doping, corruption and money laundering, and control of media rights. What’s more in this document has been clarified that european sport’s structure is organized in a pyramidal way when primary and fundamental place is occupied by grassroots federations and clubs: this explains the European Union’s focus on grassroots sports.

           The White Paper paved the way for the Commission's January 2011 Communication on the impact of the Lisbon Treaty on sport and entitled 'Developing the European dimension of sport' (COM (2011)0012)[1].

          This is the first strategic document adopted by the Commission in the field of sport since the Treaty came into force. The Communication highlights the potential of sport to contribute significantly to the overall objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy, recognising that sport improves promotes social inclusion. It also suggests that the EU should sign the Council of Europe Anti-Doping Convention, develop and implement protection and safety provisions and requirements for international sporting events, continue to make progress towards introducing national targets based on EU guidelines on physical activity, and develop rules for disabled people's access to sports facilities and events.

          And exemplary about the European mission in the sports field, what not surprisingly recently said Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth: “as for sport, I believe the EU plays an increasingly important role. We help Member States identify common challenges and elaborate possible solutions in close cooperation with all stakeholders concerned and in full respect of the autonomy of sport organisations. I have four clear policy priorities in this area. First, protecting the integrity of sport. I would like to see real progress in the field of match fixing. After years of blockage I will quickly take contact with the Presidency in order to consider how the Convention on Manipulation of Sports Competitions process could be unblocked. But integrity of sport is not only about fighting against match fixing and doping. It is also about promoting good governance, transparency, democracy and gender equality in sport organisations. Second, the trend of physical inactivity is worrying in Europe. We need to fully exploit the positive impact of sport on the society. It binds people together, forges communities and keeps people healthy. Therefore, I intend to capitalise on this potential and use sport to enhance the health of European citizens but also to promote social inclusion and gender equality. Third, sport is not only beneficial to our societies but also to our economy. The sport industry contributes to our competitiveness significantly and is an important employer. I therefore want to use sport as a driver for economic growth, employment and innovation. Fourth, I know that the European Parliament has a keen interest in developing grassroots sport, I want to make it a priority for the coming months to discuss how we can do even better for our local and regional organisations. I want to make it the subject of our next EU Sport Forum”.


2.            European sport policies before Lisbon Treaty


          However, it should be remembered that the European Union had already begun to be interested in sport since the 1980s and the main acts of the EU institutions relating to the sports phenomenon, which has always been invested in Europe in a predominantly social role - pedagogical - cultural, which certainly seem to deserve mention are first of all represented by:

          1. the so-called "Citizens' Europe" (better known as the Adonnino Report), presented to the European Council of Milan in 1985, to all intents and purposes to be considered as the decisive input at the basis of the communication and awareness actions of the European citizen with regard to his membership EU;

          2. the Commission Communication of 31 July 1991 on the delicate and controversial issue of the autonomy of the sports system, and on the occasion of which the Brussels executive stressed how sport should be taken into consideration when developing European policies on health, environment, consumer protection, tourism and education;
          3. the Declaration n. 29 annexed to the Amsterdam Treaty of 1997, which highlights the social relevance of sport with particular regard to the processes of formation of personal identity and rapprochement among citizens of the European Union;

          4. the Report from the Commission to the European Council “with a view to safeguarding current sports structures and maintaining the social function of sport within the Community framework” (the so-called Helsinki Report) of 1999, through which the Commission has provided a global vision of the sport and its fundamental function of social and educational integration, suggesting in this regard a strategy aimed at reconciling the economic dimension of the institution in question with the popular, educational, social and cultural ones related to it;

          5. the Declaration of the European Council of Nice dated December 2000 and "relating to the specific characteristics of sport and its social functions in Europe to be taken into account in the implementation of common policies", inspired by the guiding principle of safeguarding cohesion and solidarity ties that unite all aspects of sports practices, fairness of competitions, moral and material interests and the physical integrity of sportspeople (especially minors) and on which the thesis was first theorized of the so called social specificity of sport;

          6. the Declaration of the Council and the representatives of the governments of the States of 5 May 2003 concerning the social value of sport, through which it has been remarked that "promoting tolerance, acceptance and respect for diversity towards other young athletes sport can make an important contribution to intercultural understanding and to combat racism, xenophobia, sexism and other forms of exploitation;
          7. Decision no. 291 of 2003 adopted by the European Parliament and by the Council through which 2004 was declared the European Year of Education through Sport.

          Now, the existence of a new specific competence in the Treaties has opened up new possibilities for EU intervention in the field of sport. The EU now has a legal basis to support the sector structurally with the Erasmus programme and to speak with one voice in international forums and in relation to third countries. Moreover, the EU's expertise in the single market has already had a considerable impact on sport.





3.            The role of the Court of Justice of European Union on building the European Law of Sport


          The European Court of Justice, for example, has developed important jurisprudence with major repercussions on the world of sport: the first judgment, which is relevant to the terms indicated, can be well identified with what the ECJ enshrined in the Walrave and Koch judgment of 1974[2], through which the Luxembourg judges, questioned regarding the compatibility of the Union Cycliste Internationale regulation with Articles 7, 48 and 59 of the then EEC Treaty (now substantially art. 13 Ttreaty of European Union (TEU) and art. 54 and 66 TFEU) in the part in which it provided that the nationality of the coaches should coincide with that of the athletes, after specifying that the sport must be considered subject to the rules of European law only if it constitutes an economic activity pursuant to art. 2 of the EEC Treaty (now art. 3 TEU), have taken steps to limit the operation of the rule just mentioned by noting as exempt from the prohibition of non-discrimination "the composition of sports teams and in particular of the national representatives - operated exclusively on the basis of criteria technical-sports; it is therefore impossible to configure this activity from an economic point of view".

          The subsequent decision of the ECJ in relation to the European sporting context is what was sanctioned a couple of years later with regard to the Donà/Mantero case of 14 July 1976: specifically, the Court had been asked to rule on compatibility with the same provisions as Walrave and Koch, this time of some provisions of the regulation of the Italian Football Federation under which the right to play matches as professionals or semi-professionals could be recognized only in favour of those linked to it by a bond of affiliation, moreover, in principle not attributable to players not in possession of Italian nationality. According to the interpretation provided by the ECJ on that occasion, the rules of EU law do not oppose "a discipline or sporting practice that excludes foreign players from participation in certain matches for non-economic reasons, but inherent in the specific character and appearance of such matches, and having a purely sporting nature, such as at meetings between national teams of different countries".

          Continuing the brief jurisprudential excursus with reference to the sports context in relation to European law, the reference to the "historical" Bosman[3] judgment seems essential and to be considered a decisive turning point with regard to the relationship between Union law and sports law: by virtue of the arrest recently at issue, the Luxembourg Court has first ruled that the national legislation that requires the payment of an indemnity on the occasion of the transfer of a footballer (in this specific case, the Belgian Bosman, in fact) when the contract expires constitutes a obstacle to the free movement of athletes within the territory of the European Union, then ruling on the illegitimacy of the rule that limits the number of foreign athletes participating in a match (so-called 3 + 2 rule) as a hypothesis of discrimination based on nationality with reference to access to the world of work. Therefore, on the occasion of the ruling on the Bosman case, the Court, having acknowledged that sporting activity is subject to discipline by European Union law as it can be considered an economic activity and considering that the activity carried out by professional footballers is to be considered to all intents and purposes characterized by economic traits, he consequently did not hesitate to trace the rules submitted to his examination, as they are not purely sporting, to the list of matters governed by EU law, moreover specifying, in the wake of the aforementioned Donà judgment, how the principle of sporting exception certainly cannot be invoked in order to exclude an entire activity from the sphere of application of the law in question, nor with regard to rules or practices justified for economic reasons.

          The arrest of the Court of Justice subsequent to the Bosman judgment that is believed to be worthy of attention is certainly represented by what the Luxembourg court itself has ruled on the Meca Medina and Majcen[4] case mainly characterized by the alleged incompatibility, according to the applicants, between some regulatory rules issued by the International Olympic Committee on doping controls and what is established on competition and freedom to provide services by the Union treaties. through the arrest on the Meca Medina and Majcen case, the CJEU has definitively sanctioned the abolition of the concept, however previously theorized by it, as a purely sporting rule, as such removed from the application of European law, with the not indifferent consequence, among other things, the total assimilation of every sport activity (economic or purely such) to any other economic activity.

          Another sentence of the Luxembourg judges worthy of mention, if only for the change of perspective with respect to its previous orientation, it seems that they have been established with regard to the Bernard v. Olympique Lyonnais[5] case, under which the CJEU has deemed compatible with European law a national regulation that provided for the payment of a training allowance in the event that a young footballer had concluded, at the end of his training, his first contract from professional with a club other than the one that formed him, provided that the amount of this indemnity is commensurate only with the actual training costs incurred by the club and does not, on the contrary, represent a sort of compensation for the damage resulting from the loss of the player. The CJEU, in conclusion, admits the existence of a measure that hinders the free movement of the player on condition, however, that a) it pursues a legitimate and compatible purpose with the Treaty, b) it is justified for reasons of general interest and c) the application of such a measure is suitable to guarantee the achievement of the objective in question without, however, going beyond what is necessary to achieve it, admitting in the final analysis that in application of the principle of specificity referred to in art. 165 TFEU, it is possible to derogate from some hitherto untouchable dogmas of European Union law.

          Finally, in the TopFit and Biffi[6] case, the Court of Justice ruled that the practice of amateur sport is governed by Articles 18 and 21 TFEU. The Court of Justice argued that: (i) Union citizenship is destined to be the fundamental status of nationals of Member States, enabling those who find themselves in the same situation to enjoy the same treatment in law irrespective of their nationality; (ii) the situation of an EU citizen who has made use of the right to move freely comes within the scope of Article 18 TFEU, which lays down the principle of non-discrimination on grounds of nationality. On the basis of such a fundamental statement, the Court of Justice ruled that Article 18 TFEU is applicable to an EU citizen who resides in a Member State, other than the Member State of which he/she is a national, and in which he/she intends to participate in sporting activities in an amateur capacity. Consequently, Articles 18, 21 and 165 TFEU must be interpreted as precluding rules of a national sports association under which an EU citizen, who is a national of another Member State and who has resided for a number of years in the territory of the Member State where that association, in which he runs in the senior category and in an amateur capacity, is established, cannot participate in the national championships in those disciplines in the same way as nationals can, or can participate in them only ‘outside classification’ or ‘without classification’, without being able to progress to the final and without being eligible to be awarded the title of national champion, unless those rules are justified by objective considerations which are proportionate to the legitimate objective pursued.

          This last sentence cited above all seems to have an absolute value with regard to the distinction of competences between the European Union and member countries: in particular, this attraction of sport amateur within the sphere of application of the Treaties raises a delicate problem about the relationship between the competences of the European Union and the competences of States members. As is known, in fact, the European Union's competence in sports matters has been cut out art. 6 TEU belongs to the group of competences intended (exclusively) to support, coordinate or complete the action of the Member States. Reason why, art. 165, par. 4 TFEU excludes any action by the European Parliament and the Council aimed at harmonizing laws or regulations of the Member States. In this context, however, it turns out it is clear that the possibility for the Court of Justice to intervene at 360 degrees on sports activities, even in cases where the economic nature is lacking and, therefore, in clear exercise of competencereferred to in art. 6 TEU, inevitably ends up nullifying the limits imposed on   European Parliament and to the Council by art. 165, par. 4 TFEU, at least every time the exercise of an amateur sport activity is connected in some way with the right to free movement ex art. 21 TFEU. If one considers, however, that European law does not apply to matters purely internal and that the cross-border element constitutes the first prerequisite for the possibility of invoking the rules contained in the Treaties, it follows that, in sports amateur, whenever the requirement of the cross - border nature of the controversy, the action of the Court of Justice knows no limit; and as the tool of the preliminary reference, when it reveals the incompatibility of a provision of domestic law with European law, erga omnes, the nomofilactic intervention of the Court of Justice could become the pick to carry out, indirectly and via judicial, a sort of harmonization of the laws and regulations of the States members.


4.            Last european work plans and action programs regarding the sport context


          At the same time, the EU exercised its 'non-binding right' powers in closely related areas such as education, health and social inclusion through its funding programmes.

          The EU strives to achieve the objectives of greater fairness and openness in sports competitions and greater protection of the moral and physical integrity of those who play sports, while taking into account the specific nature of sport and developed a lot work plans and action programs to achieve all these goals.

·      1st European Union Work Plan for Sport (2011-2014): the European Union's 2011-2014 Work Plan (May 2011) is a three-year plan aimed at developing the European dimension of sport based on the following guiding principles: 1. promoting a collaborative approach between Member States and the Commission to, in the long run, add value in european sport; 2. Align existing informal structures with the priorities defined in the work plan; 3. Coordinated EU approach to international challenges; 4. Promoting the specificity and contribution of sport in other areas of EU intervention; 5. Orientation towards evidence-based sports policies. In summary, the key issues identified: 1. the social role (fighting doping; education, training and qualifications; prevention and combating violence and intolerance; health benefits; social inclusion); 2. the economic dimension (policy-making; sustainable financing; application of EU rules on state aid; regional development and employability); 3. the organisation (good governance; specificity of sport; free movement and nationality of sportsmen; rules on transfers and activities of sports agents; European social dialogue in the sports sector; integrity of sports competitions; protection of minors; system of licensing for companies; broadcasting rights and intellectual property). The implementation of the work plan was supported by six informal groups made up of experts.

·      2nd European Union Work Plan for Sport (2014-2017): the Council Resolution on the second European Union Work Plan for Sport was approved in May 2014. In addition to the guiding principles already contained in the previous plan, the following actions are worthy of mention: 1. to contribute to the general priorities of the EU's economic and social policy agenda, in particular to the Europe 2020 strategy; 2. take advantage of the results achieved by the first work plan; 3. integrate and strengthen the impact of the activities launched under the Erasmus + program in the field of sport. The key issues and sectors are partially similar to those of the previous plan: 1. integrity of sport (fight against doping and match fixing, protection of minors, sound management and gender equality); 2. economic dimension of sport (sustainable financing, legacy of major sporting events, economic advantages and innovation); 3. sport and society (healthy physical activity, volunteering, employment in the world of sport and education and training in sport). Five expert groups, other structures and working methods are envisaged (Presidency conferences, meetings of the Ministers of Sport and Directors of the sport, studies and conferences, etc.). 1. fight against the phenomenon of match fixing; 2. healthy management in sport; 3. healthy physical activity; 4. economic dimension of sport; 5. human resource development in sport. On 20 January 2017, the European Commission published a report in which it reports on the implementation of the second European sports work plan (COM (2017) 22). On the basis of a questionnaire distributed to the Member States, their experts and observers, the European Commission provides a largely positive evaluation of the experience. Working methods have proven to be efficient for creating a permanent dialogue with stakeholders and states on key sport-related issues in the EU. The expert groups, in turn, played an essential role in networking. For the continuation of the experience, the Commission makes the following general recommendations: 1. that the subsequent plans have a precise duration, even longer than the three years of the previous plans. On the other hand, given that 2020 represents the expiry of some EU policies and of the multiannual financial framework, this expiry could also be adopted for the next sports plan; 2. that it is characterized by greater flexibility, which allows its adaptation during implementation in the face of changing circumstances; 3. that interaction with other strategic sectors affecting sport is increased (eg competition, free movement, employment, data protection, education and training, health); 4. that synergies with the Erasmus + program are strengthened. and the following specific recommendations in terms of priorities: 1. better link the priorities included in the future work plan with the general political priorities of the Union (eg growth and employment, youth employability, social inclusion and integration of refugees, etc.); 2. guarantee continuity with the priorities defined above, in order to take advantage of the work already carried out. Some of the possible priorities to be included in the next work plan are also listed: the use of sport in external relations, the close link between physical activity and health promotion, the economic dimension of sport; 3. the usefulness of a dialogue between EU institutions, Member States, relevant sports stakeholders and interested social partners; 4. greater involvement of the European Parliament, for example through regular reporting; 5. better coordination and coordination between the work of the rotating Presidencies of the Council and the work plan. Finally, mention is made of the need to ensure a high and consistent level of representativeness of the sport movement in the preparation and implementation of the EU work plan for sport. A selection process of the participating organizations based on the activities and representativeness of the sports movement is hypothesized.

·         The new European Union Plan for Sport (1 July 2017 - 31 December 2020) On 22-23 May 2017, the EU Education, Youth, Culture/Audiovisual and Sport (EYCS) Council adopted a resolution on the new European Union Work Plan for Sport for the period 2017-2020. The new Plan aims to strengthen cooperation between Member States and the European Commission and to develop a medium- and long-term strategy in this area, providing a comprehensive timetable for action. The Plan is geared around guiding objectives: to ensure the contribution of sport in addressing EU policy challenges; to address transnational challenges through a coordinated approach at EU level; to contribute to the overall priorities of the EU's economic and social policy agenda and sustainable development in order to promote employment, growth and investment; to promote gender equality; to consolidate the achievements of the two previous work plans; to strengthen the impact of the activities launched under Erasmus+ in the field of sport. The new Plan builds on the three priorities of the previous one. In particular, as regards the integrity of sport, they concern: the fight against doping; sound management, including the fight against corruption and match-fixing; the protection of minors; the specificity of sport within the EU. With regard to the economic dimension of sport, initiatives are aimed at deepening the issue of innovation in sport and the benefits and challenges of the digital single market. Initiatives in the area of sport and society are concerned: the role of the media; the role of coaches; education in and through sport; social inclusion, including access to sport for people with disabilities; sport and health; sport and the environment, in particular environmental sustainability in the context of major environmentally friendly and energy efficient sport events and sports facilities; sport diplomacy. Finally, the European Commission is invited, in addition to working with Member States in the implementation of the Plan and to inform them about ongoing or planned initiatives, to support them and other stakeholders in activities under the Plan, through the establishment of expert groups, forms of support for the exchange of good practice, providing expert input on anti-doping issues. It should, inter alia, follow up the work of previous High Level Groups ("grassroots sport" and "sport and diplomacy"), develop the annual European Week of Sport, support activities under the Plan on the basis of the Erasmus+ Programme and other EU instruments, including the European Structural and Investment Funds. Finally, a report on the implementation of the Work Plan should be adopted in the first half of 2020 on the basis of voluntary contributions from Member States.

·       In 2018, the EU launched the #BeInclusive sport awards to crown the achievements of organisations that have successfully developed sports projects aimed at social inclusion of ethnic minorities, refugees, people with disabilities, or any other group facing challenging social circumstances. The #BeActive campaign is also gaining momentum: since its launch five years ago, the European week of sport has drawn over 40 million Europeans to more than 100 000 events in 38 countries and its popularity continues to grow. It is the largest public-funded sports initiative worldwide.

·       In 2019, the Western Balkans and the countries from the Eastern Partnership will be organising national events under the umbrella of the week of sport, officially inaugurated on 23 September in Espoo (Finland). The #BeActive Night, a new feature first introduced in 2018, will continue encouraging participants to discover the different sports activities available in their area. As the popularity of these initiatives grows, so do the Commission's plans and ambitions for the broader role of sport and the Commission's budgetary proposal for the next Erasmus programme for 2021 to 2027 is a confirmation of this ambition. The amount currently available would be substantially increased, to reach €30 billion, with €550 million of this dedicated to sport, to tackle, among other things, some immediate challenges, such as physical inactivity, good governance and the integrity of sport. As part of the effort to fight gender stereotypes and promote women's access to decision-making roles in sport, the Commission is also seeking to ensure that 30 % of sports decision-making roles are held by women by 2020.

Action programs:

·      1. Erasmus+. Sport is an integral part of Erasmus+, the EU's education, training, youth and sport program for the period 2014-2020. 1.8% of the annual budget of the Erasmus+ program is dedicated to sport-related activities, with the aim of supporting collaborative partnerships and non-profit European sporting events. The program should also contribute to strengthening the evidence base for policy making, i.e. funding studies. Finally, the program also supports dialogue with relevant European stakeholders.

·      2. European Week of Sport The European Week of Sport, proposed in the European Parliament resolution of 2012, consists of a series of initiatives to encourage European citizens to engage in physical activity and the EU supports it through the Erasmus+ programme. A Eurobarometer survey showed that 59% of Europeans have never or rarely taken part in physical or sporting activity. As a result, people's health and well-being, as well as the economy, are affected, with increased spending on health care, loss of productivity at work and reduced employment as negative knock-on effects. In order to raise public awareness, every year the EU promotes European Sport Week at EU, national, regional and local level.

·      3. Sport and migrants Social inclusion is one of the EU priorities for the role of sport in society. By bringing people together, building communities and combating xenophobic attitudes and racism, sport has the potential to make an important contribution to the integration of migrants in the EU. The European Commission facilitates the exchange of good practices regarding the integration of migrants. In September 2016, the Commission published a study examining how sport supports the integration of migrants in Europe.

          As regards the cooperation at european level EU dialogue with the sports movement, formalised by the white paper on sport, takes several forms, the most visible of which is the annual EU Sport Forum, organised and financed by the European Commission.

          Providing the opportunity to debate topical sports issues and to present EU-funded projects to allow for mutual learning, the Forum attracts representatives from international and European sports federations, the Olympic movement, European and national sports umbrella organisations and other sports-related organisations. Other structured dialogue platforms organised by the Commission include the Expert Groups, in which sports stakeholders can request observer status, high-level meetings between the EU Commissioner in charge of sports and leading representatives of the sports movement and conferences and events on sports-related issues.

          Similarly, high-profile representatives of the sports movement, the Council, the European Commission, and the European Parliament regularly gather for an informal discussion sometimes referred to as 'structured dialogue lunch'. Although not institutionalised, dialogue with sports stakeholders in the European Parliament takes place on a regular basis, for example in the framework of committee hearings or workshops on sport-related issues or informal exchanges of views within the Sport Intergroup. The Members of the intergroup have tackled a broad variety of issues, including: empowering women through sport; human rights and mega-sports events; the manipulation of sports competitions; racism and discrimination in football; and sport and regional development.


5.     Conclusion


          In view of the above, it can be argued that, although after a long time also necessary to overcome the traditional resistance of cultural matrix that relegates sport to a secondary role, if not irrelevant from the political and growth point of view, within the European Union can be said to have finally emerged a real awareness of the not inconsiderable beneficial and positive implications of sport: in fact, despite the fact that the European Commission can only support Member States and sport organisations and promote EU initiatives in the field of sport by virtue of the two sovereign principles of the specificity of sport and the autonomy of sport organisations, the European Union has been able over time to enhance the role of sport as a vehicle facilitating dialogue and exchanges between Member States, supporting the organisation, highlighting specific issues (such as social integration) and providing funding to organisations to turn policies into concrete actions through the "Erasmus +" programme: Sport focusing not only on innovation, but also on learning, exchanges and collaboration between states and the EU. And one of the most important examples of this new trend is given by the Austrian Presidency of the 2018 European Council, as the Council, composed for the occasion of the Ministers for Sport, approved in November 2018 the Conclusions on the economic dimension of sport and its socio-economic benefits.

          This is a forward-looking approach, it is a good step in the right direction, as confirmed by the last Finnish Presidency of the EU Council (which, as is well known, is at the heart of the political debate and future orientations of programmes and funds), which articulated a vision of the so-called welfare economy and in which sport plays a certainly not insignificant role.

          In short, after a gradual integration of sport into EU policies, sport has emerged as a vector of ideas, a multiplier of innovation (and integration) and a pillar of the European debate. This development is certainly to be welcomed and will certainly strengthen the debate on the European model of sport governance. However, this should be done not only at elitist/professional level, but also at grassroots sport level and also in this direction it is hoped that the future agenda of the European Union in sport will be influenced by events, strategies and programmes where it will be crucial for the future to link the different points[7], also considering that in the last decade sport has become a strategic sector with a clear impact on the general objectives of the European Union, in particular, on economic growth, on the creation of more and better jobs, and also on the development of an inclusive society, also characterised, in a basically natural way, as an effective and fast vehicle of social cohesion and interaction capable of having a significant impact on the inclusive challenges that the current scenario proposes to us today.

          Finally as regards health emergencies like Covid-19 sport could play a decisive role in promoting the concept of solidarity and cohesion also: teamwork gets kids used to understanding how individualism does not produce beneficial effects and results without the support of their teammates, which is not fun to compete in a 'championship' in which one is strong and the others are weak, which starting blocks we must all start from the same line, the ability to reward the best at the finish.

          Sport is a right, it is an indicator of social well-being, not being able to play sports is a deprivation, today more than ever we are realizing how true this is. It is therefore important that in sport you 'act' and do not 'react', every organization, association and sports club will have to metabolize the qualitative concept of social well-being that underlies sporting practice. Those who can understand and implement this approach, will have an active role in the reconstruction process that will be activated at national and community level, transforming their activity, or sports discipline, not only to the advantage of the individual who practices it, but as a tool for the affirmation of the fundamental European values ​​such as quality of life, health, social promotion, respect and protection of the environment, solidarity and equality.









[1] As regards the relationship between sport and European Union see, among others, Bastianon, Da Cassis de Dijon a Meca Medina e Majcen: la specificità dello sport tra divieti e deroghe nel diritto dell’Unione europea, in Il Diritto dell’Unione Europea, 2017, p. 417 ss.; Tomaselli, Sport e Unione Europea: un binomio vincente? In KorEuropa, 2013; Bastianon, Sport, antitrust ed equilibrio competitivo nel diritto dell’Unione Europea, in Il Diritto dell’Unione Europea, 3/2012, pp. 495 ss.; Ibidem (a cura di), L’Europa e lo sport. Profili giuridici, economici e sociali, Milano, 2012; Ibidem, La funzione sociale dello sport e il dialogo interculturale nel sistema comunitario, in Rivista italiana di diritto pubblico comunitario, 2009, pp. 391 ss.; Ibidem, Da Bosman a Bernard: note sulla libera circolazione dei calciatori nell’Unione Europea, in Il Diritto dell’Unione Europea, 3/2010, pp. 707 ss.; Nascimbene – Bastianon, Diritto europeo dello sport, Torino, 2011; Ibidem, Lo sport e il diritto dell’Unione Europea, in Greppi - Vellano (a cura di), Diritto internazionale dello sport, Torino, 2010; Tognon – Stelitano, Sport, Unione Europea e diritti umani, Padova, 2011; Carbone, Lo sport ed il diritto dell’Unione Europea dopo il Trattato di Lisbona, in Studi sull’integrazione europea, 2010, pp. 597 ss.; Colantuoni, Diritto sportivo, Torino, 2009; Tognon (a cura di), Diritto comunitario dello sport, Torino, 2009; Zylberstein, The specificy of sport: a concept under the threat, in Blanplain (a cura di), The future of sports law in the European Union: beyond the EU reform Treaty and the White paper, The Hague, 2008, pp. 95 ss.; Sannino - Verde, Il diritto sportivo, Padova, 2008; Alvisi (a cura di), Il diritto sportivo nel contesto nazionale ed europeo, Milano, 2006; Hartmann-Tews, Social stratification in sport and sport policy in the European Union, European Journal for Sport and Society, 2006, Taylor & Francis; Bogusz, Cygan, The regulation of sport in the European Union, Szyszczak, 2007; Siekmann, Soek, Models of sport governance in the European Union: The relationship between state and sport authorities, in The International Sports Law Journal, 2010; B. Garcia, Weatherill, Engaging with the EU in order to minimize its impact: sport and the negotiation of the Treaty of Lisbon, in Journal of European public policy, 2012, Taylor & Francis; Parrish, Lex sportiva and EU sports law, in European Law Review, 2012; Chatzigianni, Corporatism and pluralism in European sport interest representation, in International journal of sport policy and politics, 2014, Taylor & Francis; Geeraert,  New EU governance modes in professional sport: Enhancing throughput legitimacy, in Journal of contemporary European research, 2014; García, Meier, Global sport power Europe? The efficacy of the European Union in global sport regulation, in JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, 2017; Kornbeck, Inspiration from Brussels? the European Union and Sport, 2013; García, Sport governance after the White Paper: the demise of the European model?, in International journal of sport policy, 2009; De Wolff, Playing for the same team? The trio presidency and agenda-management in European Union sport policy, 2016; Kustec Lipicer, LajhMonitoring systems of governance in sport: looking for best practices from the European Union and beyond., in Kinesiologia Slovenica, 2013; Siekmann, SoekModels of sport governance within the European Union, in Handbook on International Sports Law, 2011; Kornbeck, Lisbonisation without regulation: engaging with sport policy to maximise its health impact?, in The International Sports Law Journal, 2015, Springer; Hovemann, Wicker, Determinants of sport participation in the European Union, in European Journal for Sport and Society, 2009 - Taylor & Francis; Van Tuyckom, Scheerder , Sport for all? Insight into stratification and compensation mechanisms of sporting activity in the 27 European Union member states, in Sport, education and society, 2010, Taylor & Francis; Van Bottenburg, Rijnen, Van Sterkenburg, Sports participation in the European Union: Trends and differences, 2005; Henry, Athlete development, athlete rights and athlete welfare: a European Union perspective, in The International Journal of the History of Sport, 2013 - Taylor & Francis; Petry, Steinbach, Tokarski, Sport systems in the countries of the European Union: similarities and differences, in European Journal for Sport and …, 2004, Taylor & Francis; Aquilina, Henry, Elite athletes and university education in Europe: a review of policy and practice in higher education in the European Union Member States, in International Journal of Sport Policy and …, 2010, Taylor & Francis; World Health Organization, Promoting sport and enhancing health in European Union countries: a policy content analysis to support action, 2011; Henry, Sport & Society: A Student Introduction, 2003; Dimitrakopoulos, More Than a Market? The Regulation of Sport in the European Union, in Government and Opposition, 2006,; García , From regulation to governance and representation: agenda-setting and the EU's involvement in sport, ESLJ, 2007; Parrish, Judicial intervention and sporting autonomy: defining the territories of European Union involvement in sport, in European sport management quarterly, 2002 - Taylor & Francis; Meier, García, Abandoning hopes for veto power: institutional options for sport governing bodies in the European Union, in International Journal of Sport Policy and …, 2013 - Taylor & Francis; Chatzigianni Corporatism and pluralism in European sport interest representation, in International journal of sport policy and politics, 2014 - Taylor & Francis; Giulianotti, Sport and modern social theorists , 2004; Geeraert , New EU governance modes in professional sport: Enhancing throughput legitimacy, in Journal of contemporary European research, 2014 -; Papaloukas , Sports law and the European union, in Sport Management International Journal (SMIJ), 2007,; García The independent European sport review: half full or half empty, in ESLJ, 2006, HeinOnline; Rütten, Abu-Omar  Prevalence of physical activity in the European Union - Sozial-und Präventivmedizin/Social and …, 2004; McArdle, Dispute resolution in sport: athletes, law and arbitration , 2014.



[2] CJEU, 36/72, 12th December 1974.

[3] CJEU C-415/93, 15th December 1995. As regards this decision see, for example, Di Filippo, La libera circolazione dei calciatori professionisti alla luce della sentenza Bosman, in Rivista italiana di diritto del lavoro, 1996, pp. 232 e ss.; Clarich, La sentenza Bosman: verso il tramonto degli ordinamenti giuridici sportivi?; Manzella, L’Europa e lo sport. Un difficile dialogo dopo Bosman?; Tizzano, De Vita, Qualche considerazione sul caso Bosman; Romani – Mosetti, Il diritto nel pallone. Spunti per un’analisi economica della sentenza Bosman; Anastasi, Annotazioni sul caso Bosman; Diez Hochleitner – Martinez sanchez, Le conseguenza della sentenza Bosman per lo sport spagnolo ed europeo; Bastianon, La libera circolazione dei calciatori e il diritto della concorrenza alla luce della sentenza Bosman; Coccia, La sentenza Bosman: summum ius, summa iniuria?, tutti in Rivista di diritto sportivo, 3/1996; Bastianon, Bosman, il calcio e il diritto comunitario e Vidiri, Il caso Bosman e la circolazione dei calciatori professionisti nell’ambito della Comunità Europea, entrambi in Foro italiano, 1996, IV, 1 ss..


[4] CJEU, C-519/04, 18th July 2006.

[5] CJEU, C-325/08, 16th March 2010. Relevant comments, among others: Colucci – Vaccaro (a cura di), Vincolo sportivo e indennità di formazione. I regolamenti federali alla luce della sentenza Bernard, Sports Law and Policy Centre, 2010; Agrifoglio, Diritto comunitario, diritto interno e classificazione dei contratti: il contratto di lavoro sportivo punto d’incontro tra ordinamenti, in Europa e diritto privato, 2011, 1, pp. 257 ss.; Capuano, La libera circolazione dei calciatori nell’Unione Europea tra vecchie questioni e nuovi scenari: il caso “Bernard”, in Rivista italiana di diritto del lavoro, 2011, v. 30, 1, parte II, pp. 189 ss.; Carini, Libertà di circolazione degli sportivi extracomunitari e la tutela dei vivai giovanili, in Europa e diritto privato, 2011, 1, pp. 287 ss.; Bastianon, Da Bosman a Bernard: note sulla libera circolazione dei calciatori nell’Unione europea, in Il diritto dell’Unione europea, 2010, 3, pp. 707 ss..


[6] CJEU, C-22/18, 13th June 2018. On the subject, Bastianon, Attività sportiva amatoriale, titolo di campione nazionale e diritto europeo: un dialogo ancora (tremendamente) difficile,; Ibidem, La doppia carriera degli atleti. Una sfida culturale vincente, Torino, 2019; Ibidem, The TopFit judgment on amateur sport and its potential aftermath on the relationship between EU law and dual careers of athletes,

[7] An example of this integration of policy areas is inherent in the Tartu Call for a Healthy Lifestyle, a declaration signed three years ago by three European Commissioners - led by Tibor Navracsics (European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport) respectively, Vytenis Andriukaitis (European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety) and Phil Hogan (European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development), updated in June 2019 at a joint conference, at which several strategic European policy actors converge in the common fight for a healthy lifestyle.


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