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«February 2014 Review of the Balance of Competences between the United Kingdom and the European Union Culture, Tourism and Sport © Crown copyright ...»

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3.9 In his evidence, Christopher Gordon, formerly an independent adviser to the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture, and to UNESCO, also identified a prevailing ambiguity about the EU’s definition of culture leading to unrealistic expectations about what it can achieve. Mr Gordon explained this ambiguity with several reasons: ‘1) the imprecise wording in the Treaty Article 152, 2) the legacy of political deals underlying 151’s original agreement, 3) the failure properly to define what is meant by ‘culture’ in differing EU contexts, 4) ignorance about the respective authority and influence of the EU’s component parts, 5) inability or unwillingness by Member States to distinguish between intrinsic and instrumental values of culture in pursuit of other policies, and 6) misunderstanding about the different capacities of the Council of Europe and of the EU’.


3.10 As mentioned in Chapter 2, contributors were divided on the impact of EU action under its new competence in relation to tourism. While all acknowledged there was a role for EU activity, Visit Britain and Visit England remained concerned that this activity could disproportionately benefit Member States with weaker tourist markets, with whom the UK is in direct competition.3

3.11 Unlike Phil Bennion MEP, those organisations saw a potential threat to UK national interest in greater information sharing whether between Member States or third party nations, and urged caution, asserting that while there is a benefit to sharing best practice, ‘it should be a case of attaining mutual benefits and sharing experience rather than a one-way process of giving away best practice models freely to others’.4 Statement of UK Government policy on supporting vibrant and sustainable arts and culture: www.gov.uk/ government/policies/supporting-vibrant-and-sustainable-arts-and-culture, accessed on 3 February 2014.

Visit Britain and Visit England, submission of evidence.

–  –  –

3.12 The tourism competence does not confer on the EU an explicit external competence to negotiate on behalf of Member States with third parties. However, the EU does have implied external competence powers. The EU is, for example, currently working on a draft joint agreement with the Chinese National Tourism Administration. The relative value of such agreements to the UK against the value to competing Member States remains to be seen.

3.13 The BHA was concerned that tourism competence could lead to increased regulation. For example, they were concerned that in relation to the proposed EU Tourism Quality Label, ‘there seems to be some uncertainty over the requirement this Regulation could impose on Member States to set up a board to assess applications from quality schemes to be included in the label scheme’.

3.14 Visit Britain and Visit England were also concerned that the EU would not properly exercise its new competence to assess the impact of measures under other competences

on the visitor economy:

While not specifically intended for the tourism sector a number of […] provisions impact businesses and those employed in the tourism sector. Visit Britain and Visit England question whether the EU undertakes sufficient research on the impact of new cross-cutting competencies […] on the visitor economy before introduction.

3.15 Referring to these wider measures their evidence went on to say, ‘there comes a time when the legislative burden begins to stifle growth and we need to take care that we do not commit ourselves further to raising standards the market can no longer afford […] Not all these changes have necessarily negative impacts, but the role of the EU in everyday life for tourism stakeholders has increased, creating tensions in some areas’.

3.16 Part of this relates to the consideration that, if the tourism sector in the UK is already mature and an exemplar of best practice, it would not benefit from EU engagement which

took the form of regulatory obligations as opposed to the encouragement of best practice:

the issue of EU as ‘cheer leader’ as opposed to ‘policeman’.

3.17 This gives rise to a further consideration going forward: namely that if the UK is successful in maintaining the status quo as far as the current level of EU engagement is concerned, there may be a risk that it will miss opportunities by not engaging in initiatives in which participation is voluntary.


3.18 As noted in Chapter 2, a number of contributors from the sports sector, again while overall in favour of the supporting competence, remained wary of the potential for an extension of

EU activity:

While it is fair to say that this influence is still evolving, much of it has been positive, although there are clearly areas which can be improved and refined moving forwards. This influence is wide-reaching, and the sports movement and national governments must be careful that it does not spill over and become something detrimental which hampers – rather than supports – sport in the UK and Europe.

Sport and Recreation Alliance.

3.19 The Premier League believed the EU’s priority should be promoting the social and educational value of sport, which might be interpreted as a message to stay out of the professional game.

44 Review of the Balance of Competences between the United Kingdom and the European Union: Culture, Tourism and Sport

3.20 Those who responded from the professional sports were also concerned that the EU should not miss the opportunity to use its new competence to strive for greater coherence in the wide range of EU activities that impact professional sport, but saw greater cause for

optimism than the tourism sector appeared to:

Its existence represents a success story for those sports governing bodies who wanted a provision in the European Treaty to counterbalance the perceived dominance of internal market values. Professor Richard Parrish, Edge Hill University.

The supporting competence afforded to the EU through the Lisbon Treaty seems not to have had a marked effect. This is mainly because it is non-sporting (economic) policy which impacts sport the most. What should have an effect is how the EU treats sport; the chance to help national federations develop sport using this specificity should be encouraged and developed. The Football Association.

There has clearly been an upturn in interest and activity since the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty, and the European Sports Unit […] is to be commended on the important role it plays in promoting and defending sport with the Commission services and ensuring the impacts on sport are taken into account on a wide range of policy issues. The Premier League.

3.21 Perhaps unsurprisingly, for the Football Association a key challenge was how to ensure the EU involves national federations in its discussions on sports policy. The FA are keen to ensure that the EU not only recognises sport as a national competence for Member States, but also as a legitimate competence for sports federations, and the EU should respect their role.

3.22 For grassroots sport the issues were somewhat different. The NOC and Sports Confederation of Denmark was concerned that the formalisation of the EU’s competence for sport in the Lisbon Treaty meant that sport ‘is now part of the whole EU bureaucratic machinery […] This whole bureaucratic process has been challenging especially for the minor EU Member States to participate in’. This in turn hands greater power to the Commission, who always have a seat at the table.

3.23 The Sport and Recreation Alliance made a similar point in relation to the dominance of bigger players, ‘the EU should make a more concerted effort to enable grassroots organisations at national, regional, and local level to engage in the development of sport in Europe. At present there is little scope for them to be able to do this and it is only the largest organisations and stakeholders who are involved’.

3.24 In more general terms, it is in UK interests to maintain its capacity to influence the development of the EU’s involvement in the sports sector. As far as the Work Plan for the 2011-14 period is concerned, it has the chair of three of the six Council expert groups.5 Sport and Recreation Alliance, submission of evidence.

Chapter 3: Future Options and Challenges 45

The United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) The information contained in this text box comes from the UNOSDP.

This works to promote sport as an innovative and efficient tool in advancing the United Nations’ goals, missions and values. Through advocacy, partnership facilitation, policy work, project support and diplomacy, UNOSDP strives to maximize the contribution of sport and physical activity to help create a safer, more secure, more sustainable, more equitable future. In order to effectively implement their mandate, the Special Adviser and UNOSDP act as the gateway to the UN system in the field of Sport for Development and Peace, and actively engage with an extensive network of stakeholders, including UN entities, civil society organizations, governments, sports federations, academia, the private sector and the media.

Since 2009, UNOSDP has also been hosting the Secretariat of the reconstituted Sport for Development and Peace International Working Group (SDP IWG), an inter-governmental policy initiative established in 2004 whose aim is to promote and support the integration of Sport for Development and Peace (SDP) policy and programme recommendations into the national and international development strategies of governments.6

3.25 Professor Richard Parrish also noted that the new sports competence strengthens the EU’s ability to act externally and enter into negotiations and commitments with third countries and international organisations to conclude international agreements. Again, it remains to be seen what benefit this would have for the UK, where we are already negotiating bilaterally, and in many cases may continue to wish to do so.


3.26 This report is intended to provide an objective look at the impact of EU law on the sectors of culture, tourism, and sport, with the goal of informing the debate on the EU, both here in the UK, and in other Member States. It is based on the evidence submitted by 52 organisations or individuals, including the devolved administrations, national funding bodies and institutions, professional and governing bodies, small grassroots organisations, and academics. We are grateful to all those who contributed, including in written form, via an online survey, and during the course of meetings and discussions.

3.27 All the contributors who submitted evidence for this report held the view that the current EU’s supporting competences in culture, tourism and sport were on balance either beneficial to the future development of these sectors and UK national interest or had the potential to be so.

3.28 None of the contributors argued in favour of extension of the EU’s competences in these areas, and a number of contributors warned of the need to remain vigilant against moves by the European Union to extend its competence in culture, tourism or sport.

3.29 Contributors from all three sectors also commented on the impact of the EU’s activity on their sectors under competences not covered by this report, in particular in relation to State aid, immigration, the Single Market and Structural Funds. This valuable evidence will be reflected in the other reports that cover these issues.

For more information please see: UNOSDP www.un.org/wcm/content/site/sport/home/template/news_item.

jsp?cid=36400, accessed on 3 February, 2014.

46 Review of the Balance of Competences between the United Kingdom and the European Union: Culture, Tourism and Sport

3.30 Looking ahead, none of the contributors to this report identified substantial challenges to the future UK national interest in the current balance of competence between the UK and EU in relation to culture, tourism or sport. Nor did any of the contributors advocate radical options for change in the balance of these competences.

3.31 Those challenges that were identified related to the EU’s operation, and administration, of

its existing competence. These fall into three main categories:

• Challenges to the sectors’ ability to maximise benefit to the UK due to bureaucracy of the European Union;

• Challenges presented by future, potentially burdensome action of the EU under its competences; and

• Challenges presented by the EU’s potential failure to use its competences in culture, tourism and sport to influence action under other competences that impact on these sectors.

3.32 A leitmotif to emerge is that in all three sectors the UK was considered by its stakeholders to be a leader of best practice, international relations and policy development compared with other Member States. This brings opportunities in terms of the UK’s ability to drive the EU agenda for culture, tourism and sport, but also challenges, in that other Member States may stand to gain more from EU support under these competences than the UK.

Any engagement at EU level needs to take these national specificities into account.

3.33 The evidence supports the view that the culture, tourism and sport sectors are significantly inter-related, with the UK’s exceptional cultural and sporting offer being a strong attraction for tourist visitors, which in turn increase both the level and diversity of participants in those activities.

3.34 In considering how the EU can become more effective, there may be scope for further analysis of what these inter-dependencies might imply for the EU’s exercise of its competences in culture, tourism and sport and the potential leverage to be gained from taking a more complementary approach. This should be balanced against the risk identified by respondents across the three sectors, of the EU’s tendency towards overly bureaucratic and resource intensive procedures and operating models.

3.35 On the basis of the evidence received, getting this balance right, between leveraging maximum support from the EU, while resisting threats of stifling bureaucracy or competence creep, will be crucial to serving the UK’s national interest in these sectors.

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