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11/01/2013 Marc Tarabella: Associations are still not part of the European debate

Marc Tarabella has been an MEP for eight years and is an expert in relations with citizens. In June 2011 he wrote a declaration calling for a European statute for associations and foundations, and he talks about this initiative which has so far gone unheeded, in an interview by our partner Sport and Citizenship.

What place does the European Parliament (EP) accord to civil society?

Marc Tarabella: The EP holds regular meetings with citizens to enable MEPs and civil society to discuss the important topics on the European agenda.

As a member of the Committees on Agriculture, on consumer protection and also women’s rights, I am often questioned on various subjects. As co-chairman of the ‘Social Economy’ intergroup I am in touch with the stakeholders in this field, including associations, especially at the public hearings held approximately every two months.

In a written declaration in June 2011 you urged the Commission to create a European statute for associations and foundations. What’s the situation now? think tank founded in 2007 focusses on the role of sport in European societies. It publishes a quarterly review on issues related to sport and citizenship. 

Marc Tarabella: First of all, I’d like to point out that the associations have been asking for a European statute for nearly thirty years. The EP has always supported this request and that is still the case, as shown recently in the resolution on 12th June 2012 “on recognising and promoting cross-border voluntary activities in the EU”.

Associations are still not included in the April 2011 Single Market Act, but the Commission, in its Social Business Initiative raised the question of “the need for a possible European statute for other forms of social enterprise such as non profit-making associations (…)”. At present we are forced to recognise a certain lack of activity from the Commission on this matter.

On 8th February 2012, the Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation of the statute for the European foundation. This represents a big step forward, even if this proposal is still awaiting EP consent and unanimity at Council level before being adopted.

At present, there is no provision for setting up a status for European associations, despite repeated demands from the EP. The written declaration is therefore a useful tool to make the European Commission turn to this subject again.

What are the implications for associations, particularly in the sport sector?

Marc Tarabella:  Associations encourage active citizenship and they are key actors in social economy. Their role in shaping Europe's democratic life, culture and the European social model is widely recognized, and the freedom of association is upheld in the Charter of Fundamental Rights. If the European dimension is to be taken seriously, it appears necessary to recognize at European level a reality all Member States are already recognizing at national level, i.e. a tool enabling citizens to give practical substance to the freedom of association at the European level.

Such a statute would allow European sports associations to continue, in Europe, all the activities in keeping with fulfilling their social objective and to engage in cross-border cooperation with other EU countries. This statute would also allow a common political culture on sport so that citizens could assemble within legally recognised transnational organisations.

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