Incorporating the specific characteristics of sport and its social functions into the implementation of common policies

Incorporating the specific characteristics of sport and its social functions into the implementation of common policies

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Incorporating the specific characteristics of sport and its social functions into the implementation of common policies


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Incorporating the specific characteristics of sport and its social functions into the implementation of common policies

Document or Iniciative

Declaration of the European Council on the specific characteristics of sport and its social function in Europe, of which account should be taken in implementing common policies


The role of the Community

Sporting organisations and the Member States have primary responsibility in the conduct of sporting affairs. The Community has only indirect powers in this area. Nevertheless, it is felt that the Community should take account of the social, educational and cultural functions of sport in its action under the various provisions of the Treaty, in order to preserve the social role of sport.

Guiding principle

The declaration lays down principles concerning the various aspects of sport, with a view to preserving the cohesion and ties of solidarity that exist in sport at all levels, fair competition, and the moral and material interests and physical integrity of sportsmen and women, especially minors.

The Community institutions and the Member States are invited to continue to examine their policies on the basis of these principles, if they so wish.

Sport for all

  • Sport is based on fundamental social, educational and cultural values. It makes for integration, involvement in the life of society, tolerance, acceptance of differences and compliance with rules;
  • Sporting activity should be accessible to every man and women, regardless of his or her abilities or interests;
  • Physical activity is extremely important for disabled people and should be encouraged. It is particularly conducive to rehabilitation, reeducation, integration into society and individual development;
  • The Member States encourage voluntary services in sport, with the support, where necessary, of the Community, within the limits of its powers.

Role of sports federations

  • The task of sporting organisations is to organise and promote their particular sport, in line with their objectives, with due regard for national and Community legislation and on the basis of a democratic and transparent method of operation. They enjoy independence and the right to organise themselves;
  • Sporting federations have a key role to play in ensuring the necessary solidarity between the various levels of sporting practice, from recreational to top-level sport. Among other things, they support amateur sports, ensure equal access, train young people and protect health, including taking measures to combat doping;
  • These social functions entail special responsibilities and form the basis for the recognition of their competence to organise competitions;
  • Their method of organisation must ensure cohesion in sport and participatory democracy.

Preservation of sports training policies

Training policies for young sportsmen and sportswomen should be encouraged. Sporting federations, where appropriate in tandem with the public authorities, should take the necessary action to preserve the training capacity of clubs affiliated to them and ensure the quality of such training.

Protection of young sportsmen and sportswomen

  • It is necessary to pay special heed to the vocational training of top young sportsmen and sportswomen in order to ensure that their vocational integration is not jeopardised by their sporting careers, but without disregarding their mental balance, family ties and health, in particular the prevention of doping.
  • Member States and sporting organisations should monitor and investigate commercial transactions targeting minors in sport, including those from third countries, in order to ensure that they comply with labour law and do not endanger the health and welfare of young sportsmen and sportswomen. There is also a need, where appropriate, to consider appropriate measures.

Economic context of sport and solidarity

  • The ownership or economic control by one financial operator of several sporting clubs taking part in the same competition may jeopardise fair competition. Sports federations are encouraged to introduce arrangements for overseeing the management of clubs in order to prevent a situation of this kind from arising.
  • As the sale of television broadcasting rights is one of the greatest sources of income for certain sports, the sharing of part of the corresponding revenue among the appropriate levels may be beneficial in order to preserve the principle of solidarity in sport.


As far as the system of transfers is concerned, in particular in football, the European Council strongly supports the dialogue between the sporting movement, the organisations representing professional sportsmen and sportswomen, the Community and the Member States. This dialogue concerns the development of the transfer system, especially in football, in order to take account of, among other things, the principle of freedom of movement for workers. The current system of transfers in professional football is being carefully examined by the Commission in the light of the rules on both competition and freedom of movement.


The declaration was pronounced at the European Council of Nice on 7-9 December 2000 and annexed to the Presidency conclusions. It takes note of the report on sport submitted by the European Commission to the European Council in Helsinki in December 1999 with a view to safeguarding current sports structures and maintaining the social function of sport in the European Union.

Related Acts

Decision No 291/2003/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 6 February 2003 establishing the European Year of Education through Sport 2004.


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