The EOC EU Office has published its Priorities regarding the EU Sport Policy for 2019-2020. This document has been drafted together with the partners of the Office, which represent broadly the organised sport. The Priorities document lists crucial topics for the next two years to be discussed at the European level on sport. Taking into account the importance of 2019 with the upcoming EU elections in May and the appointment of new Commissioners, the Office wants to raise awareness of the future MEPs and Commissioner on the following topics:
· Organisation of sport in Europe – Acknowledge the European Model of sport and recognise its specificities
The unique role of the organised sport in Europe, based on solidarity, inclusivity and voluntary engagement, and its benefits to society need to be safeguarded. The key components of the European Sport Model, including the role of federations and National Olympic Committees, should be recognised and supported by the EU institutions. Furthermore, to ensure that sport organisations can govern their sport effectively, the specific nature of sport in Europe must be fully recognised. In addition, when developing and implementing its policies, the EU should take into account the geographical organisation of sport in Europe, as it is organised on continental basis, and not only including EU Member States.
· Integrity of sport – Enable sport organisations to strengthen their governance and support clean athletes and competitions effectively
A successful fight against threats to the integrity of sport (including doping and match-fixing) is key and should be strengthened for the sake of athletes, coaches, volunteers and all stakeholders involved in sport. In this regard, the coordination between sport organisations, public authorities and other actors in the EU and at international level should be enhanced. Regarding good governance, which is a pre-condition for the autonomy of sport, sport organisations welcome an in-depth dialogue with the EU institutions to promote good governance. The EU should acknowledge the ongoing developments in different sport organisations and support the use of developed tools. Moreover, the EU should continue to support e.g. through funding programmes, the activities of the sport movement to advance gender equality as well as fight against harassment, abuse and gender stereotypes in sport. A follow-up for the EU “Gender Equality in Sport – Proposal for Strategic Actions 2014-2020” should be planned.
· EU Funding – Increase the participation of sport organisations to the Erasmus+ and other EU programmes
The access of organised sport to the Erasmus+ should be facilitated in order to improve the impact and sustainability of the programme. Furthermore, the mainstreaming of sport into other relevant EU funding programmes, such as European Regional Development Fund and Cohesion Fund (ERDF), European Social Fund Plus (ESF+), should be implemented, e.g. by encouraging investment in sport infrastructures. Sport has a substantial impact on societies, e.g. in terms of economy, health and social inclusion, as well as disease prevention, so the mainstreaming of sport would help to achieve the objectives of these programmes. Furthermore, the EU should facilitate the access of non-EU countries to the EU funding as sport in Europe is organised on continental basis.
· Sport as a health-enhancing physical activity – Promote sport as the most efficient and cost-effective means to improve public health
Globally, more than 1.4 billion adults are at risk of disease due to insufficient physical activity (WHO study, 2018). EU should promote access to sport for all EU citizens, and sport should be fully recognised as a preventive tool. Moreover, collaboration between schools and sport clubs should be strengthened and physical activity in schools should be increased. In addition, the membership in the sport clubs should be promoted by the EU and the Member States as efficient and cost-effective means for physical activity.
· Societal Role of Sport – acknowledge the contribution of sport to society
EU should continue to promote sport as an important enabler of sustainable development. The role of sport to contribute for the Sustainable Development Goals is also recognised by the UN. Furthermore, the EU should better acknowledge the societal role of sport by supporting the various initiatives already undertaken by sport organisations (e.g. on the inclusion of the refugees, migrants and persons with disabilities). In addition, the non-profit nature of grassroots sport should be taken into account in the EU legislation and judgements, e.g. in taxation, to safeguard the future of sports clubs in Europe. Last but not least, the EU should encourage initiatives to guarantee the sustainable financing of sport, including maintaining the possibility of exemptions or reduced VAT rates for sport.
· Further challenges
There are also some further challenges raised in the document, such as the commercial exploitation of the sport events and the fight against their illegal use, establishment of sport satellite accounts, which should be facilitated, as well as the hosting of major sport events, where public authorities and sport organisations should effectively cooperate to ensure their sustainability. Regarding the sustainability, EU should support the activities of sport organisations through its funding programmes, mainly Erasmus+ and Life. In addition, the EU should better cooperate with Athletes’ Commissions, which are democratically elected bodies and which represent athletes from the organised sport movement. Regarding the athletes, the EU together with the Member States should continue to support their dual career.
The document will be circulated to the political parties and candidates of the EU elections. In addition, after the elections the Priorities will be raised with the newly-elected MEPs. The EOC EU Office encourages its partners and other sport organisations, and especially the NOCs to use the document as an inspiration at the national level, when meeting potential candidates.