This article explores the limits and opportunities for enhancing the democratic legitimacy of EU actions in the field of professional sport using new modes of governance. It presents a conceptual toolkit by which the ‘throughput legitimacy’ of an EU policy can be analysed. Analysing the throughput legitimacy of the European social dialogue, we establish that, by improving the latter, both input and output legitimacy can be increased. The EU could borrow some of the positive elements of the social dialogue approach and incorporate them in the steering of other issues in professional sport. For instance, it may be interesting to pre-establish certain conditions on representativeness and relevance for participation in the policy process. Crucially, working on a clear theme-per-theme-basis instead of organising outsized gatherings such as the EU sport forum would definitely benefit throughput legitimacy.
Throughput legitimacy, EU sports policy, meta-governance, social dialogue in professional football, new modes of governance
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