UEFA has developed close ties with the European Union (EU), 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. In its dialogue with EU officials, UEFA aims at strengthening the notion of specificity of sport, i.e. the special characteristics that distinguish football and other sports from all other economic sectors. In addition, UEFA's work with the EU institutions builds on the structures of the European sports model, underpinned by the sports federations. The protection of minors, financial fair play, sports betting and match-fixing, and broadcasting are some of the most pressing questions facing football governance and recurrently discussed at EU level. On many of these policy areas UEFA cooperates closely with other sports federations, at both European and international levels.
Lisbon Treaty and specificity of sport
The Lisbon Treaty was the first EU treaty to include an article on sport. As the EU does not have a legal competence in sport policy, the article is limited to supporting and encouraging the actions of the member states of the EU. However, the treaty provision can be seen to indicate the strengthening of the notion of specificity of sport.
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, UEFA President 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
Published in January 2011, the European Commission communication on sport 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, UEFA President 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 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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