After several years of joint efforts deployed by the European institutions and the sports movement to have sport included in the European Constitution, this weekend in Brussels the European Union adopted Article III-182 on Sport as part of its new Constitution.
The text of the article (see below), established after extensive consultation between the IOC, the European Olympic Committees, and the Olympic Summer and Winter Sports Federations, focuses on the need to protect the social, educational and cultural role that sport plays in European society.
The adoption of the text shows the determination of all parties to underline the competence and autonomy of sports federations, while giving sport, and the strong values that it promotes, a key position in European discussions, where it had until now essentially been considered from an economic angle.
Commenting on this significant event, IOC President Jacques Rogge said: "The decision by the European Union to recognise sport as a key element of its new Constitution is the first step towards developing a European dimension in sport. It is the result of ten years of discussions and consultation between European institutions and the world of sport. I am particularly satisfied to see that these efforts have been fruitful and that sport has now a place of its own within the European project.”
The Union shall contribute to the development of quality education by encouraging cooperation between Member States and, if necessary, by supporting and complementing their action. It shall fully respect the responsibility of the Member States for the content of teaching and the organisation of education systems and their cultural and linguistic diversity.
The Union 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.
Union action shall be aimed at:
a) developing the European dimension in education, particularly through the teaching and dissemination of the languages of the Member States;
b) encouraging mobility of students and teachers, inter alia by encouraging the academic recognition of diplomas and periods of study;
c) promoting cooperation between educational establishments;
d) developing exchanges of information and experience on issues common to the education systems of the Member States;
e) encouraging the development of youth exchanges and of exchanges of socio-educational instructors and encouraging the participation of young people in democratic life in Europe;
f) encouraging the development of distance education;
g) 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 young sportsmen and sportswomen.
The Union and the Member States shall foster cooperation with third countries and the competent international organisations in the field of education and sport, in particular the Council of Europe.
In order to contribute to the achievement of the objectives referred to in this Article,
a) European laws or framework laws shall establish incentive actions, excluding any harmonisation of the laws and regulations of the Member States. They shall be adopted after consultation of the Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee.
b) the Council of Ministers, on a proposal from the Commission, shall adopt recommendations.