So far, the European Commission is the most active institution dealing with sport at the European level. In the political system of the EU, the European Commission has the right to initiative.
The European Commission has the power to:
› Propose recommendations and “incentive measures” (Article 165)
› Propose regulations or directives in other policy areas which may also affect sport (e.g. Internal Market, Competition, Employment and Social Affairs)
› Publish Green Papers or White Papers on sport related issues. Green Papers usually launch a debate, whereas White Papers contain concrete proposals for future policies
› Initiate infringement procedures if a Member State fails to comply with EU law and refer the case to the European Court of Justice.
Moreover, the European Commission finances sport related projects and studies, provides secretarial support and expertise to the Council expert groups and engages in regular dialogue with sport stakeholders. The overall responsibility for sport falls within the Directorate General for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth (DG EAC) led by Commissioner Mariya Gabriel from Bulgaria. At the working level, sport related matters are dealt with by the “Sport Unit”. However, as sport is affected by other EU policy areas as well, other DGs such as Internal Market (DG MARKT), Competition (DG COMP) or Employment and Social Affairs (DG EMPL) are of utmost relevance for sport as well.
The Lisbon Treaty considerably strengthened the competences of the European Parliament. The European Parliament obtained new powers in budgetary matters and, in most policy areas, is involved in legislative decisions through ordinary legislative procedure. Article 165 requires the approval of the European Parliament in the case of “incentive measures” (e.g. funding programmes). The European Parliament must approve the vast majority of EU legislation as well.
The European Parliament also has the power to:
› Adopt opinions, reports and resolutions on sport related matters
› Commission sport related studies
› Submit parliamentary questions to the Commission
› Organise hearings on sport related matters
The technical work is done in Parliamentary Committees. The general responsibility for sport lies with the Committee for Education and Culture (CULT) chaired by German MEP Sabine Verheyen. Other Committees may also be relevant, such as the Committee for Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) or Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL). Additionally, at the beginning of 2015, an Intergroup on sport was set-up within the European Parliament (Intergroups are informal groupings of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on an issue of common interest.), which held its first meeting on 30 June 2015.
With regard to sport the creation of the Sport Ministers’ Council was one of the major changes introduced by the Lisbon Treaty. In the political system of the EU, the Council - as the institution representing the national governments - convenes in different configurations, depending on the issue under discussion. The Sport Ministers’ Council brings together the ministers of the 28 EU Member States in charge of sports. Since September 2010, Sport is officially part of the Council configuration “Education, Culture, Youth and Sport”. Formal Council meetings are held twice a year. In addition, sport ministers also come together on a more informal basis.
The Sport Ministers’ Council can adopt recommendations and “incentive measures”, such as a sport funding programme. For the latter, the approval of the European Parliament is required, as foreseen by the ordinary legislative procedure. Decisions of the Council of Sport Ministers are not legally binding for the Member States.
Council Working Party on Sport
The technical work is done in a special working group: the Council Working Party on Sport. The latter is composed of delegates from national ministries in charge of sports and specialised technical staff from the Member States’ permanent representations in Brussels. Its main role is to prepare the agenda of the Sport Ministers’ Council.
The European Union Work Plan for Sport (January 2021 – June 2023) adopted by the Sport Ministers in 2020 provides for the creation of these two Expert Groups:
› The Expert Group on Green Sport
› The Expert Group on strengthening the recovery and the crisis resilience of the sport sector during and in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic
Expert groups are designed for broader participation from the Member States, with the involvement of the sport movement and other relevant stakeholders on EU level. Member States might consider appointing, in appropriate cases, representatives of their national sports movement to an expert group. The Expert Groups aim to present concrete outputs and policy recommendations at the end of their mandate.
The EOC EU Office follows both Expert Groups as guest representing the voice of the Olympic movement in the discussions.