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White Paper on sport

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White Paper on sport

This White Paper is the first large-scale European initiative on sport. It sets strategic guidelines on the role of sport in the European Union (EU), particularly at social and economic level.


White Paper on Sport of 11 July 2007, presented by the European Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee [COM(2007) 391 final - Not published in the Official Journal].


This White Paper is the Commission’s main contribution to the theme of sport and its role in the daily lives of European citizens.

It recognises the impact which sport can have on all European policies.

It also identifies the needs and specific characteristics of the world of sport.

Lastly, it opens up future prospects for sport at European level, while respecting the principle of subsidiarity, the independence of sport organisations and Community law.


The main objectives of the White Paper on Sport are to:

  • set strategic guidelines;
  • encourage debate on specific problems;
  • increase the visibility of sport in the EU decision-making process;
  • highlight the needs and specific characteristics of the sector;
  • identify the appropriate level of government for future action.

More specifically, the Commission intends to use this White Paper to:

  • ensure that the sport dimension is fully reflected in all areas of European policy;
  • increase legal clarity as regards the application of the acquis communautaire in the field of sport and thereby help to improve sport governance in Europe.

Thematic structure

Three themes are covered by the White Paper:

  • the ‘societal role of sport’, i.e. what sport represents as a social phenomenon;
  • the ‘economic dimension of sport’, i.e. the contribution of sport to growth and the creation of jobs in Europe;
  • the ‘organisation of sport’, i.e. the role of each stakeholder (public or private, economic or sporting) in the governance of the sports movement.

Action Plan

An Action Plan bearing the name of Pierre de Coubertin, in tribute to the father of the modern Olympic Games, completes this White Paper.

In this Action Plan, the Commission proposes a range of specific actions relating to the societal and economic aspects of sport, such as health, social inclusion, voluntary work, education or external relations.

The Action Plan includes the following proposals:

  • the development of guidelines on physical activity and the establishment of a European network for the promotion of sport as a health-enhancing activity;
  • greater coordination in the fight against doping at European level;
  • the award of a European label to schools which encourage involvement in physical activities;
  • the launch of a study on volunteer work in sport;
  • the improvement of social inclusion and integration through sport using European programmes and resources;
  • the promotion of the exchange of information, experiences and good practices between law-enforcement services and sport organisations for the prevention of racism and violence;
  • the promotion of the use of sport as a tool in European development policy;
  • the creation of statistics to quantify the economic impact of sport;
  • a study on public and private financing of sport;
  • an impact assessment on the activities of players’ agents and an evaluation of the value-added of possible Community intervention in this field;
  • better structuring of dialogue on sport at Community level, in particular through the organisation of an annual forum on sport;
  • intensification of intergovernmental cooperation in the field of sport;
  • promoting the creation of European social dialogue committees in the sport sector, and support for employers and employees.


The Commission will monitor the initiatives presented in this White Paper through a structured dialogue involving all the stakeholders in the world of sport:

  • European sport federations;
  • European umbrella organisations for sport, such as the European Olympic Committees (EOC), the European Paralympic Committee (EPC) and European non-governmental sport organisations;
  • national umbrella organisations for sport and national Olympic and Paralympic Committees;
  • other stakeholders in the field of sport represented at European level, including the social partners;
  • other European and international organisations (bodies of the Council of Europe and the United Nations, UNESCO, WHO, etc.).


Sport, as a social and economic phenomenon, contributes to the achievement of the European Union’s strategic objectives of solidarity and prosperity. It conveys the concepts of peace, tolerance, mutual understanding and education, in line with the European ideal.

Today, sport is confronted with new problems, such as commercial pressure, trafficking in human beings, doping, racism, violence, corruption and money laundering.

The European Council recognised the essential role of sport in its Declaration of December 2000. The European Council of June 2007 set a mandate for the Intergovernmental Conference, according to which a provision in the future Treaty will be devoted to sport.

This White Paper stems from wide-ranging consultations started in 2005 of, in particular, the Olympic Committees, sport federations and the Member States.


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Developing the European Dimension in Sport [COM(2011) 12 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

This Communication does not replace the White Paper on Sport, but builds on its achievements. It is based on three broad thematic chapters (the societal role of sport, the economic dimension of sport and the organisation of sport), which each include a list of possible actions that could be implemented by the Commission and Member States.

last update 06.05.2014