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About sport in the EU

Sport is a vital facet of the lives of millions of Europeans, and has a significant impact on Member States' economies, common values and sense of European identity.

Sport represents an integral part of the lives of millions of Europeans. Support for sport builds community cohesion, grows social inclusion and leads to an enhanced sense of European identity. Sport is also a key facet of Member State and the larger European Economies; the sector employs millions of European citizens, and adds billions in revenue.

Sport is therefore a vital part of what it means to be European; policymakers, education professionals, regional and national experts are directly and regularly involved in ensuring sport continues tackle challenges in this field.

Initiatives

The Directorate-General of Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (DG EAC) sponsors many high-level and grassroots initiatives whose aim is to promote interaction between regional and local organisations – and therefore assist European citizens to become more involved.

  • The European Week of Sport is one of the premiere initiatives in this field – and allows sport organisations, enterprises and experts from across the EU to develop their strategies for increasing participation in sport-related activities, and for participants to celebrate sport in their communities. The Week culminates in the presentation of the #BeActive awards.
  • The EU Sport Forum acknowledges the need for broad, policy-based approaches to ensuring sporting events continue to respond to developing economic and cultural challenges – and seeks to build a future in sport through high-level dialogue between sport leaders, entrepreneurs and other sport professionals.
  • The BeInclusive Sport Awards recognise organisations using the power of sport to increase social inclusion for disadvantaged groups.

How the EU is involved in Sport

The European Commission (EC) develops and shares innovative ideas EU-wide, assisting in the implementation of programmes at a regional and local level. The Erasmus+ Sport programme, for instance, helps develop the European dimension of sport, boosting cooperation between sports organisations, public authorities and other parties.

Promoting good health

The EC promotes exercise through the sharing and promotion of good practices between EU countries and with interested parties. The EU Physical Activity Guidelines (2008) show how cross-cutting national policies can encourage this. The 2013 Council Recommendation on health-enhancing physical activity across sectors will 

  • encourage more effective policies in this area
  • help monitor progress on and trends in exercise levels and policies.

EU health policy also promotes exercise. The EU platform for action on diet, physical activity and health provides a forum for tackling adverse trends.

Good governance

In addition, the EC focusses on ensuring promotes positive values through good governance in sport. In particular, the EC advances policies toward anti-doping, anti-violence, anti-corruption and anti-racism, with a view to integrate best practices across Member States’ programmes and events.

While the EU respects sports organisations' autonomy, it promotes compliance with the following principles:

  • democracy
  • transparency
  • accountability in decision-making
  • inclusiveness in the representation of interested parties.

The Commission encourages employers, athletes and sports workers to shape labour relations through European social dialogue. There are social dialogue committees for professional football and for active leisure.