Engaging with the EU in order to minimise its impact: sport and the negotiation of the Treaty of Lisbon

2011-04-11T14:12:24Z (GMT) by Borja Garcia-Garcia Stephen Weatherill
The absence of explicit reference to sport in the EU Treaties has allowed the Court and the Commission room to require sport to adjust to the standards required by EU law. Sporting federations typically assert a need for a wider zone of autonomy than the Court and Commission have been prepared to grant, but, unable to persuade the Member States that they deserve exemption from the application of the Treaty, sports bodies have increasingly been induced to develop strategies of co-existence with the EU. This article shows how they were able to exert influence in both the Convention on the Future of Europe and the subsequent intergovernmental conference in order to secure recognition of sport’s special characteristics within the Treaty, albeit in ambiguous form. Sports bodies engage with the EU precisely in order to minimise its impact. The relevant provisions of Treaty of Lisbon dealing with sport are examined to show that they leave open scope for future contestation about the interaction between EU law and policy and systems of sports governance.