Sport can be a lever for growth, jobs, health and social inclusion  

European Week of Sport: CoR rapporteur Roberto Pella calls for mainstreaming of sport across the priorities of the next EU budget

To mark the beginning of the European Week of Sport, taking place between 23 and 30 September, the Austrian presidency of the Council of the EU organised an international conference on the economic dimension of sport in Vienna last week. One of the speakers was Roberto Pella (IT/EPP), Vice-President of the Italian National Association of Municipalities (ANCI) and current rapporteur of the CoR opinion on Mainstreaming sport into the EU agenda post-2020.

The conference was opened by Austrian Vice‑Chancellor and Federal Minister for the Civil Service and Sport HeinzChristian Strache, who highlighted the importance of sport for economic growth on a small‑scale, regional level as well as the importance of the innovative component of sport as a driver of economic growth.

"In particular, we have to place the diverse economic and social added value of sport and exercise at the centre of our efforts", Mr Strache said, pointing out that in Austria the contribution of sport to GDP is around twice as high as the European average.

In his intervention the CoR rapporteur Roberto Pella welcomed that the current Austrian presidency considers sport as a priority and referred to the social and health dimensions of sport alongside its economic impact, estimated as 2% of EU's GDP and accounting for 7.3 million jobs. His opinion will be adopted at the CoR plenary session on 9–10 October.

"As the discussions on the next EU budget are underway, we need to work together to make sure that these facts and the key propositions of the opinion will be reflected not only in the increase of the Erasmus budget but also in other areas, including the Structural and Investments funds (ESIF), European Social Fund and innovation and research", Mr Pella said.

The opinion calls to allocate specific funding to support the development of local grassroots sport infrastructure, to promote physical activity and to ensure access to sport activities for everyone. It also suggests that the EU should develop sport diplomacy to promote European values and introduce guidelines on promoting physical education at school.

On Friday Mr Pella, Mayor of Valdenga and Vice-President of the Italian National Association of Municipalities, will participate in the URBACT Good Practices Festival in Bari to talk about urban health and sport. The two-day event features several high-level speakers, among them Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu.

Mr Pella is also representing the CoR in the European Commission's #BeActive award jury. The awards ceremony will take place in Sofia – the 2018 European Capital of Sport – on 17 October.

On 28 November the CoR will co-organise with UEFA (the Union of European Football Associations) a major conference on EU funding for sport. The event focuses on the use of ESIF in relation to sport initiatives and small-scale sports infrastructures as well as other funding programmes relevant to football. UEFA signed up to the #CohesionAlliance initiative in March.

Sources: Austrian Presidency of the Council and ANCI