Thursday June 14th, 2001
The anticipated settlement between the European Union and the FIA is now entering its final stages, with the EU publishing notification of the proposed settlement to allow objections to be filed before the settlement becomes official.
Appearing in the Official EU Journal since yesterday, the settlement notification lists changes that have been made and will be made in the various agreements and regulations that govern Formula One. This, following the European Commission's anti-trust investigations into the governance of Formula One over the past few years.
The EU's settlement includes changes in the FIA's Sporting Code; the Concorde Agreement; the agreement between the FIA and the FOA; the contracts between the FOA and TV stations; and agreements with local Grand Prix organisers and promoters.
Among other items, the settlement states that circuits hosting Formula One events will no longer be forbidden from hosting other rival motor racing events, that are not sanctioned by the FIA. Furthermore, the settlement states that television networks with rights to cover Formula One races will not be enticed, by way of a significant discount, to refrain from covering other motor racing series.
The settlement also lists changes made in the Concorde Agreement, signed between the Formula One teams, the FIA and the FOA. According to the settlement, the FIA agrees to cancel the clause which forbids the teams from participating in "any other race, competition, exhibition, or championship for open wheeler single seat cars."
Furthermore, the settlement also includes the cancellation of the current article in the Concorde Agreement, which states that "the teams have no rights to the championship elements, i.e. to any film footage of the relevant events and any official timing information, intellectual property rights, trade names, logos" and more.
The settlement also proposes that the rights to all commercial aspects of the sport will be held by a separate promoter, outside of the FIA. To that extent, Bernie Ecclestone, the commercial rights owner for the past two decades, will resign from his position as vice president of the FIA. The settlement states that upon expiry of the current agreement between Ecclestone and the FIA - at the end of 2010 - the FIA will lease these rights for a period of 100 years, for a fixed price, thus distancing the governing body altogether from the commercial aspects of the sport.
However, the settlement also states that the FOA, Ecclestone's company, "will not be automatically named as successor to the existing agreement." This, only a couple of months after Ecclestone and the FIA had already signed such deal.
Notably, most of the changes that the FIA and the FOA agree to in the settlement have already been carried out over the past year, since the EU announced it is entering into settlement discussions with the FIA, in May 2000.
The European Commission now allows up to one month (until July 13th) "for third parties to send their observations." Barring any significant objections, however, the case is expected to be officially closed in the next few months.
Click here to read the full settlement notification, in PDF format