On 4 April, a meeting of the European Union Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council (EYCS) was held in Luxembourg, with European Olympic Committees (EOC) President Spyros Capralos addressing delegates ahead of a policy debate on the future of European sport.
Minister Roxanna Mărăcineanu, representing the French Presidency of the Council, delivered a speech on how sport plays a key role in transforming behaviour and promoting sustainable development.
Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, also addressed delegates. She said the EC will launch the Pilot Projects and Preparatory Actions (‘Sport for People and the Planet’) in the upcoming weeks to allow European citizens to be actively involved in sport.
For the public session in the afternoon, EU Sports Ministers firstly approved the draft resolution: ‘Conclusions on sport and physical activity, a promising lever to transform behaviour for sustainable development. '
The text aims "to speed up behavioural change among producers and consumers of sporting goods and services, businesses involved in sports infrastructure, and organisers of events to reduce the impact on the environment." The conclusions also seek to better position sport "as a lever for education and for taking account of the Sustainable Development Goals."
After the conclusions were approved, there followed a policy debate titled ‘Promoting EU values through sport and the organisation of sport’. EOC President Capralos delivered a detailed speech before the start of the debate. In his opening remarks, he emphasised the importance of the European Sports Model and offered insights into how sport should be regulated in the future, following the emergence of new actors.
Stating that he was grateful to be representing the EOC, Mr Capralos also emphasized the solidarity and unity shown within the Olympic Movement following the invasion of Ukraine. He said that the future of sport in Europe would require innovation and a need to adapt, while also staying true to traditional values that have shaped sport on this continent.
Following Mr. Capralos’ remarks, EU Sports Ministers each responded with their view on the European Sports Model. The public session also witnessed a speech by the Ukrainian Sports Minister, Vadym Gutzeit, who thanked the EU for all its efforts in supporting his country’s athletes following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
Both Commissioner Gabriel and Minister Mărăcineanu concluded by offering their support and well wishes for the incoming Czech Presidency, who earlier outlined their priorities for sport during their term, focusing on sustainability in sport, making sport greener and the impact of sports infrastructure on the environment, especially after the hosting of major sporting event.
Following the Ministers’ remarks, the public session of the Council concluded with a press conference held by Commissioner Gabriel and Minister Mărăcineanu. They summarised the key talking points of the afternoon’s debate, which included gender equality in sport, the role of sustainability in sport, and the importance of sport and physical activity in a post-pandemic world, while also re-emphasizing Europe’s continued support for Ukrainian athletes impacted by the ongoing war.