EU Backing For Scots Sport Independence Welcomed

08 May 2008
SNP MEP Alyn Smith has welcomed a vote in the European Parliament backing continued support for national sports teams in countries like Scotland and Wales.

MEPs meeting in Brussels were voting on the European Commission's strategy on sport - an influential, though non-binding policy document that will guide the European Commission's approach to promoting sport across the EU.

But there were concerns that the European Commission wanted to take a centralised approach to sport, failing to recognise that sporting excellence is best encouraged at a local level.

SNP MEP Mr Smith backed an amendment in Parliament defending the autonomy of national sporting organisations like the Scottish Football Association or Rugby Union. MEPs backed an amendment supporting the principle of subsidiarity in sport.

Speaking from Brussels after the vote Mr Smith said:

"I'm glad that common sense prevailed here and we voted to preserve the principle of subsidiarity in sport. Although this didn't go as far as I would like, it is a clear signal to the European Commissionthat MEPs value local and national identity and independence in world sport.

"We in Scotland have a proud sporting history and long will that continue. Our national teams are very important to us and it would have made no sense at all for EU policy to ignore their distinctiveness, and distinctive contribution.

"The European Commission has major plans to develop and promote sport across the continent over the coming years and there is a clear role for the EU structures in working across borders. I welcome the broad thrust of their strategy which will now explicitly pay proper heed to our independence in world sport."