Laurent Wauquiez - “Looking at sport in relation to all the issues it covers”

Laurent Wauquiez - Former French Minister in charge of European Affairs

, by Sport et Citoyenneté

Laurent Wauquiez - “Looking at sport in relation to all the issues it covers”

The current economic context should not prevent the EU from taking on its new “Sport” competence fully. According to Laurent Wauquier, who is very keen on the values of sport, “the main thing is to spend more wisely”.

What does the notion of European citizenship mean to you?

LW: For me, being a European citizen is about a real feeling of belonging to the same continent, bound by the same history and sharing the future which is opening up before us, and which we are building together.

This feeling is by definition rich and multifaceted, and must be developed.

First of all, we need to avoid the false alternative between national and European sentiment. They are different things which are totally compatible.

Europe must also fully accept its identity and its values. I intervened after the appearance of a “European diary” giving all the religious festivals apart from Christian ones. That kind of omission cannot be tolerated, for we cannot construct and nourish our identity by denying our history.

Finally, I want to highlight what the EU contributes to our daily life, through the visits I make regularly in France to demonstrate the “real” Europe. These always give the opportunity for meaningful discussions which show me that the French have a genuine desire to appreciate and understand Europe.

The EU now has a shared competence in sporting matters. What is your connection with sport? Do these questions matter to you?

LW: Of course! I am a keen sportsman myself and I train whenever I can. I run marathons, so I need to run, cycle, roller skate and so on. I feel the benefits to my health every day! With one of my close friends I also take part every year in the 15 km race in Puy en Velay (the village where I am mayor). He used to be a professional cyclist, then he went blind, but he has remained a professional sportsman. I like being his “guide” in this race. It is always a very special time, bringing together the finest values of sport: solidarity, effort and sharing.

Chantal Jouanno has reminded us several times of the importance she attaches to a European sports policy. Bearing in mind the financial constraints of the present time, what can you do about this at the European level?

LW: Chantal shows real determination in her action for sport and I am glad she puts it at EU level. We discuss the question a lot.

As for the financial aspect, the European Union, like all the member states, is faced with the necessity of exercising restraint in its spending. For me the main thing is therefore not to spend more, but to spend more wisely.

The EU is already investing heavily in sport, particularly in matters involving the link between citizenship and sport. I have in mind the fight against cheating, actions uniting civic and sporting education, and the implementation of programmes combating violence in stadiums.

Our objective is to make these policies more coherent and more effective. We are on the right track, because since September 2010 an “Education, Youth, Culture and Sport” Council has been in place. The title of this council illustrates that Europe sees sport in relation to all the issues it covers. I think it is a very good thing.

Since then conclusions have already been adopted with respect to reinforcing the coordination of the fight against doping in different member states. In its resolution on 18th November 2010 the Council undertook to hold regular discussions with different representatives of the sporting movement. Progress has already been made.

www.diplomatie.gouv.fr www.sportetcitoyennete.org

Sport et Citoyenneté, the European think tank dedicated to the study of the impact of sport policies, has published the June 2011 issue of their quarterly scientific journal. Focusing on the theme “The European Social Dialogue in Sport”, the journal includes interviews, reviews about best practices and expert reports to different topics in this area.

The publication is available on membership with the organisation. For more information about Sport and Citizenship, its scientific journal or to become member of the organisation, please visit www.sportetcitoyennete.org or get in touch with Carole Ponchon at carole.ponchon at sportetcitoyennete.org.

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