It attracts growing public interest, sponsorship is abundant and there is extensive media investment. It has proved its ability to allow different types of sporting practice to coexist and its capacity to host and organise major sporting events. Sport in the EU is well-structured and organised, and conveys values and traditions peculiar to the continent. While a number of serious problems persist, such as doping, violence or match-fixing, European sport projects a positive image overall.
While European sport continues to stand as a reference for other world regions, the EU has only recently started to make sport a component of its external relations policies and actions, namely following the entry into force of the EU's supporting competence for sport in the Lisbon Treaty in 2009. Article 165 TFEU calls on the EU to foster cooperation with third countries and competent international organisations in this area.
Over the last decade, the Commission has gained some experience in supporting sport-related projects in developing countries, through different programmes, and has thus helped to enhance the image of European sport and its social and educational roles. On the policy side, sport is now being gradually integrated in bilateral agreements with third countries, starting with non-EU European countries.
Sport can be a cross-cutting tool to promote education, health, inter-cultural dialogue, development and peace, and its role as a component of the EU's external relations is likely to grow in the future.