For many years the European Union did not offer any official legal competence in sport. All that changed in 2009 when the Lisbon Treaty came into force and for the first time the EU was granted the right to “contribute to the promotion of European sporting issues, while taking account of the specific nature of sport, its structures based on voluntary activity and its social and educational function".

In practice this means that the EU cannot harmonise legislation it the field of sport, but it can play a supporting, coordinating and supplementing role.

Currently this is being seen in areas such as match-fixing, good governance, volunteering and education and training.

Nevertheless, the EU still has always had a tangible impact upon our sector, primarily through other policy areas that interact with sport.

We are all aware of the landmark Bosman case which has changed the way sports transfers are conducted.

Free-movement and anti-discrimination laws have affected the ways that sport can organise its competitions, while laws relating to issues such as media rights, intellectual property and VAT come directly from the EU.

Even restrictions on the types of pesticides that can be applied to pitches or the types of paint that can be used to paint sailing boats are regulated by Brussels and Strasbourg.

The EU also serves as a helpful funding stream for sports related projects in the UK, and it is likely that from 2014 the EU will for the first time have a specific funding programme just for sport.

In this section we will look at: 


For further information on any recent European policy developments, please consult our policy update page.

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