In 2009 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 in the field of sport but it can play a supporting, coordinating and supplementing role.

The EU and sports policy

It does this through a number of mechanisms but primarily through the EU Work Plan for Sport. The Work Plan for Sport identifies a number of priority policy areas in which the EU seeks to support or coordinate development including match-fixing, good governance, volunteering and education and training.

In addition to the Work Plan, the EU has a tangible impact upon our sector through other policy initiatives that affect sport.

Free-movement and competition laws affect the ways that sport can organise its competitions and conduct player transfers, while laws relating to key issues such as media rights, intellectual property and VAT continue to be influenced directly by the EU.

EU funding

In addition to sports policy, the EU also operates a number of funding streams which are open to sports-related projects in the UK that have a European dimension.

The key funding stream for sport is ERASMUS+ Sport which is an allocated fund to support sports projects over the period 2014-2020.

In addition to ERASMUS+ Sport, other ERASMUS+ funding opportunities are available as well as funding through the EU Structural Funds.