Rhein on Energy and Climate

Neither the USA nor China have been the world`s sport super powers at the Olympic Games in London, but the 25 countries, without tiny Malta and Luxembourg, from the European Union.

Indeed, athletes from the EU have won a total of 300 medals, of which 94 gold, compared with 104 for the USA and just 87 for big China. These are impressive figures for a Union of some 500 million, twice the US population, but substantially less than China` s 1.300 million

It is proof of Europe`s high level performance in practical all disciplines, from swimming to horse riding and rowing. Europe owes its dominant place in sports to the wide spectrum of sport facilities, both private and public, a dense network of sport clubs and associations with regular competitions at municipal, regional, national and European level. But it also shows that Europeans are far from being a decadent bunch of people doing nothing but drinking beer and looking at TV shows.

This is no plea for the EU substituting itself to member countries in matters of sport, though Article 6 of the new EU Treaty lists sports as an area where the EU has a competence to support, coordinate and complete member states` action.

There is no need to fight for establishing an EU Olympic Committee. This would require lengthy legal disputes with the International Olympic Committee; and member countries would not back such a move.

However, considering the ever closer links that member countries are developing among themselves, it would be perfectly appropriate to regroup all teams from member countries under the EU flag at the opening and closing ceremonies. The EU should use the unique opportunity that the Olympic Games offer every two years for making a bit of global publicity that it needs so badly. After all the 27 national EU delegations made up close to one third of all delegations in London!

The EU Commission should raise the issue with member states and then ask the International Olympic Committee for a derogation from the century-old rule under which all delegations enter the stadium in the order of the French alphabet and allowing all EU delegations to be grouped under Union Européenne.

Of course, the EU has presently infinitely more important matters to do deal with. But for the 2016 Games in Rio it should pick up the issue.

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