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Procedure : 2000/2055(COS)
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Thursday, 7 September 2000 - Strasbourg
Helsinki Report on Sport

European Pariament resolution on the Commission report to the European Council with a view to safeguarding current sports structures and maintaining the social function of sport within the Community framework - The Helsinki Report on Sport (COM(1999) 644 - C5-0088/2000 - 2000/2055(COS) )

The European Parliament,

-  having regard to the Commission report (COM(1999) 644 - C5-0088/2000 ),

-  having regard to the European Union Conference on Sport, held in Olympia from 20 to 23 May 1999, which underlined the importance of sport for bringing the citizens of the European Union closer together,

-  having regard to Declaration No 29 on sport, annexed to the Amsterdam Treaty,

-  having regard to the Commission White Paper on Education and Training (COM(1995) 590 ),

-  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions on the European Model of Sport(1) ,

-  having regard to its resolution of 17 December 1998 on urgent measures to be taken against doping in sport(2) ,

-  having regard to the conclusions of the Vienna European Council meeting held on 11-12 December 1998,

-  having regard to its resolutions of 22 May 1996 on the broadcasting of sports events(3) and 13 June 1997 on the role of the European Union in the field of sport(4) ,

-  having regard to Point 50 of the Conclusions of the European Council of Santa Maria da Feira of 19-20 June 2000, calling for account to be taken of the special characteristics of sport in Europe and its social function,

-  having regard to the Bosman judgment of the EC Court of Justice(5) ,

-  having regard to the Deliège (C-191/1997) and Lehtonen (C-176/1996) judgments of the EC Court of Justice,

-  having regard to its resolution of 18 November 1999 on preparation for reform of the treaties and the next intergovernmental conference(6) ,

-  having regard to the Communication from the Commission on the Community support plan to combat doping in sport (COM(1999) 643 ,

-  having regard to the recommendations of the Helsinki Spirit 2000 Conference of the European Women and Sport Network (EWS),

-  having regard to the Commission's unsatisfactory reply to the Parliamentary question of 13 January 2000 on the request for specific recognition of amateur sport (P-0102/2000),

-  having regard to Rule 47(1) of its Rules of Procedure,

-  having regard to the report by the Committee on Culture, Youth, Education, the Media and Sport and the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market (A5-0208/2000 ),

A.  whereas sport is an ideal platform for social inclusion and cohesion and as such should be an integral part of existing Community programmes, which should make use of it to combat social exclusion, violence, inequalities, racism and xenophobia,

B.  whereas there is widespread concern regarding the reprehensible outbreaks of forms of violence, racism and xenophobia at sporting events,

C.  whereas Member States and sporting organisations, in organising sporting events, have a duty to provide their citizens with protection in an area of freedom and justice,

D.  having regard to the increase in doping and the alarming infiltration of this sector by organised crime, with serious consequences as a result of the ongoing legislative vacuum; having regard to the increasing abuse of pharmaceutical products which is seriously damaging the health of sportspersons; having regard to the need for European sporting authorities to draw up a common set of rules to be applied to the issue of doping,

E.  having regard to the economic imbalances in professional sport between clubs and athletes, not to mention the problems in training young athletes, which have arisen in the wake of the Bosman judgment,

F.  whereas professional sport and the marketing of professional sport have become a business; whereas, therefore, competition law and the four freedoms must apply to the commercial aspects of sport; whereas, further, in applying the Treaty rules to sport, the special characteristics of the sector must be taken into account, as already indicated by the European Court of Justice,

G.  having regard to the position adopted by the Commission, and Parliament's aforementioned resolution of 22 May 1996, concerning the granting of exclusive broadcasting rights to non-encrypted channels, with a view to enabling the majority of the population to participate in sporting events of general interest,

H.  having regard to the enormous expansion of sport in economic terms, which has led to an increase in the value of television rights, sponsorships, merchandising and all other ancillary activities, and to the multiplication of international competitions, with a consequent increase in jobs in the sector,

I.  whereas the pursuit of sports-related economic activities by both organisations and individuals is subject to the rules of the EC Treaty and Community law,

J.  whereas sport can be of enormous benefit to all social groups, both educationally and in terms of social integration, and this should be reflected in national and Community policies,

K.  whereas the practice of sport has very positive implications for the development of European health policy,

L.  whereas the work and status of sportspersons should be properly appreciated and safeguarded and taken into consideration by Member States and by national and international sporting federations,

M.  having regard to the importance of establishing, in each Member State, a sporting federation to supervise the growth of sport amongst the disabled and the less advantaged sections of the population and to encourage them to become involved in it; whereas greater attention should be paid to sporting programmes and events geared to the needs of such groups,

1.  Welcomes the Commission's statements regarding the significant educational and social functions of sport; emphasises the integrative nature of sport and its importance not only as regards physical development but also in intellectual terms through the inculcation of important social values, such as team spirit, fair competition, cooperation, tolerance and solidarity;

2.  Underlines the need for the Community to take account of the autonomy and competence of recognised sports bodies both at national and international level with regard to the governance and organisation of the sports concerned;

3.  Calls on the Commission to involve the existing work of the European Network of Sport Sciences in Higher Education (ENSSHE) and the subjects of vocational training and qualifications for sportspersons in the EU's Socrates and Leonardo Programmes, together with the reintegration of sportspersons in the labour market when their sporting activity comes to an end;

4.  Welcomes the Commission's willingness in the Helsinki Report to come forward with accompanying, coordination or interpretation measures at Community level to strengthen the legal certainty of sport and its specific social and educational functions;

5.  Underlines the importance of sports education at school; calls on the Member States to attach due importance to the teaching of physical education in the curricula of all schools and to encourage young people to take part in amateur sports;

6.  Takes it for granted that the Commission acknowledges the principles laid down in the Bosman judgment as firmly established ones, and therefore calls on the Commission to support structures of self-government within sport that promote solidarity and the training and development of players, as much in smaller local clubs as in great internationally recognised ones; reminds the Commission that such structures and aims are fully compatible with the opinion of the EC Court of Justice in the Bosman case; and calls on the Commission to refrain from taking measures or putting forward proposals which might call into question the principle established in the Bosman judgement;

7.  Calls on the sports federations to revitalise their internal democracy and take account of the different needs and management methods of professional and amateur sport, by setting up the appropriate representative structures;

8.  Calls on the Intergovernmental Conference to include an explicit reference to sport in Article 151 of the Treaty, so that in its action the EU can recognise the cultural, economic and social phenomenon that sport represents;

9.  Reiterates the call it issued to the Commission in paragraph 6(f) of its aforementioned resolution of 13 June 1997 to investigate the national rules governing public subsidies for professional clubs and to seek to bring about transparency with regard to the financial situation of such clubs;

10.  Calls particularly on the Commission to take account of the positive aspect of sport with regard to health in the development of a Community health policy;

11.  Draws attention to the conclusions of its aforementioned resolution of 13 June 1997 concerning the organisation of a European Year of Sport;

12.  Calls on the Commission to give favourable consideration, but in a manner strictly consistent with the Treaty, to those practices which promote the grass-roots development of sport and which provide for equality of opportunity and thus contribute to the healthy and diverse development of European sport;

13.  Expresses its respect for those persons who perform voluntary work in sports clubs set up to offer sport as a leisure activity, in particular work with young people and minority groups in sports and society; reiterates the need for special coordination to be given to the particular characteristics of amateur sport;

14.  Takes the view that such activities merit greater support and calls on the Commission to consider how this support can be provided more effectively and on a broader basis at European level;

15.  Warns about the major differences which may emerge between elite sport and smaller sports clubs and between professional and amateur sport; points out that, in both these cases, the one cannot do without the other, so that efforts must be made to ensure that mutual support continues to be provided;

16.  Calls for the establishment of sporting associations to be encouraged, wherever this is intended to support amateur sport and show solidarity with the less-advantaged sections of society;

17.  Acknowledges the European Communities' framework for sport, but asks the Commission, in accordance with the spirit of declaration 29 in the Amsterdam Treaty annex, to take due account of the national and regional character of sports structures and the historic tradition of sport in Europe;

18.  Calls on the Commission to collect and disseminate widely best practice developed by local and regional authorities as community leaders and key players in local regeneration partnerships, as well as providers and enablers of services to all people in the community;

19.  Calls for the Member States and sporting federations to protect sportsmen and women under the age of eighteen and to envisage strict arrangements for their care and education which might even include a ban on any commercial transactions involving them and to conduct a study into the "trade" in young sportsmen and women, focusing in particular on the effect on young athletes under the age of eighteen who enter into professional sport;

20.  Urges the International Gymnastic Federation not to encourage extreme thinness, by penalising gymnasts and other sportspersons;

21.  Calls on sporting bodies to establish principles whereby all young athletes who are being trained to participate in high-level sporting competitions also receive an education and vocational training to complement their sports training; calls on the Commission to incorporate these aspects in the Socrates and Leonardo Programmes;

22.  Reminds sporting bodies and the Member States of the European Union's objective to provide its citizens with protection in the areas of freedom and safety and asks the responsible authorities to step up their cooperation in order to prevent violence at sporting events;

23.  Calls on the Member States to transpose the Council recommendation of 22 April 1996 relating to the prevention and control of disturbances in connection with football matches into their national legislations as soon as possible and to adopt the tightest possible sanctions against those responsible, in accordance with the handbook for international police cooperation approved by the Council resolution of 21 June 1999(7) ;

24.  Calls on the Member States to adopt practical measures in their legislation to encourage private investment in sport;

25.  Urges those Member States that have not yet done so to establish a sporting federation for disabled people, both the physically disabled and those with learning difficulties, recognised and assisted by official sporting bodies; calls on the Member States to give particular attention to the development, funding and promotion of sport for disabled people and to safeguard their special needs as a part of sports culture and to provide exchanges between disabled and non-disabled sportspersons; and calls on the Member States and the Commission to encourage sport and physical activities for people with disabilities through the Community programmes;

26.  Calls on sports organisations to share out responsibilities in sport between women and men, strengthen women's role in the decision-making process, and develop gender equality plans for their members;

27.  Calls for television rights to be granted in compliance with the antitrust law and to companies which take responsibility for the risks involved in preparing the sporting event; calls also for transparency in the granting of television rights;

28.  Draws attention to the need to comply with Community law, in view of the enormous economic importance of the manufacture of sports articles and clothing, and - particularly in the area of development cooperation - the need to prevent imports into the Community of products whose manufacture does not comply with ILO and environmental standards;

29.  Calls on the Commission, bearing in mind the conclusions of the Portuguese Presidency and the European Council of Santa Maria da Feira, to submit a Communication on the integration of sport into the various Community policies and ways of acknowledging the work of the sports organisations, the extent of sports education in the curricula of the individual Member States, and sexual harassment and abuse in sport;

30.  Insists that consumers must be allowed a fair share of the resulting benefit, and in particular that European citizens should not be deprived of the opportunity to view important sporting events live through public service broadcasting, or through other channels that are free at the point of delivery; therefore calls on the Commission to give favourable consideration to practices which bring this about and, pursuant to Article 81(3) of the EC Treaty, to clear the way for some exemptions from competition rules;

31.  Reiterates the call it issued to all the Member States in paragraph 4 of its aforementioned resolution of 13 June 1997 to make use of the right provided for in Article 3a of the television directive in order to ensure that a substantial proportion of the public is not deprived of the possibility of following events of major social importance because the latter are broadcast on an exclusive basis;

32.  Requests the Member States to promote ways of ensuring that part of the revenue from sponsorship and advertising goes towards supporting amateur sport;

33.  Calls on the Member States to upgrade schools specialising in sports medicine and to set up vocational training courses for specialists in the various sectors of sports medicine;

34.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and Commission.

(1) OJ C 374, 23.12.1999, p. 56.
(2) OJ C 98, 9.4.1999, p. 291.
(3) OJ C 166, 10.6.1996, p. 109.
(4) OJ C 200, 30.6.1997, p. 252.
(5) ECR 1995, I-4921.
(6) Texts Adopted, Item 4.
(7) OJ C 196, 13.7.1999, p. 1.

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