UEFA and the European Union (EU) institutions
Over the last years, UEFA has developed closer ties with the European Union, which has become a regular interlocutor. The EU is a legal and political reality that has an increasing influence on UEFA and its national associations.
All the EU institutions have long taken an interest in sport. This interest is well illustrated by the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union, decisions and communications of the European Commission, resolutions of the European Parliament and political declarations of member states.
In its dialogue with EU officials, UEFA aims at strengthening the notion of specificity of sport and building on the structures of the European sports model, underpinned by the sports federations. The protection of minors, financial fair play, sports betting and broadcasting are some of the most pressing questions facing football governance and currently being discussed at EU level.
On the greatest number of these subjects, UEFA cooperates closely with other sports federations, at both European and international levels.
UEFA and the Lisbon Treaty
With the arrival, for the first time in EU history, of a treaty article on sport, there is every reason to believe that the EU's interest will rise further still.
According to the new article 165, the EU "shall contribute to the promotion of European sporting issues, while taking account of its specific nature, its structures based on voluntary activity and its social and educational function." To this end, its action shall be aimed at "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."
Although limited to supporting and encouraging the actions of the member states of the EU, the provision certainly gives cause for hope that greater account will be taken of the specificity of sport, i.e. the special characteristics that distinguish football and other sports from all other economic sectors.
Brussels highlights and important meetings
UEFA president Michel Platini has been a frequent guest of EU highest-level representatives – read more here.
UEFA's representative office to the European Union
UEFA's representative office to the European Union is located in Brussels, in the heart of the EU district. Since 2004, it has been committed to the coordination and implementation of UEFA's day-to-day relations with the EU institutions. It benefits from the expertise of all UEFA divisions and acts as an intermediary for the new European Team Sports (ETS) association.
UEFA and the Council of Europe
UEFA has been a long-standing member of the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS) of the Council of Europe. EPAS is a platform which aims at fostering exchange between sports organisations and national governments as well as promoting good governance in sport.
In September 2011, Michel Platini gave a keynote speech to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. The fight against match-fixing, eliminating violence in the stadiums, the need for financial fair play in European club football and the importance of national teams were the main topics of his address. Mr Platini urged the Council to help seek solutions and to make a lasting and fruitful contribution to ensuring football's future well-being. UEFA also welcomed the Council of Europe's landmark recommendation on match-fixing which showed that the Council is at the forefront in tackling this threat to sport.
European Commission communication on sport
January 2011 saw the publication of the European Commission communication on sport, which was welcomed by UEFA as a positive development for sport and the future of European football. The communication proposed ways in which the new European Union competence in sport, created by the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, could be implemented. In the communication, the European Commission gave its backing to many of UEFA's core values and key policies, including:
• UEFA's Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations
• Centralised sale of television rights
• Specific intellectual property rights for sport competition organisers
• Fight against illegal betting and match-fixing
• Four key features of the European sports model
Shortly afterwards, the EU commissioner for education, culture, multilingualism and youth, as well as sport, Androulla Vassiliou, came to UEFA's House of European Football to explain the report and its ramifications.
In February 2012, UEFA welcomed a European Parliament report on sport as a very encouraging milestone for the future of European football. The extensive report enlisted MEPs' clear support for all of UEFA's main policies and core values.
In a speech to the 12th Council of Europe Conference of Ministers Responsible for Sport in Belgrade in March 2012, Michel Platini called for strong action against match-fixing, combating spectator violence, implementing financial fair play, and the settling of sporting disputes by sports courts. Mr Platini called in particular for an international convention on match-fixing and for match-fixing to be made a criminal offence, to confront a phenomenon which, he said, was endangering sport's fabric. The UEFA President pledged strong measures on violence in stadiums and explained why UEFA's financial fair play measures aimed to bring financial stability to the game.
Also in March 2012, the European Commission confirmed that UEFA's financial fair play regulations were in line with European Union (EU) State aid policy. Michel Platini and vice-president of the European Commission and commissioner for competition Joaquín Almunia published a joint statement on the issue, emphasising the consistency between the rules and objectives of financial fair play and the policy aims of the commission in the field of State aid.
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