Every EU action on sport statistics is designed to improve the quality and usefulness of data, generate new data, and make it more widely available. Reliable data and evidence about sport in Europe is needed to help form policies in this sector, as well as to help raise the profile and awareness of sport in policy-making.
Sport Satellite Accounts
During the past decade, Sport Satellite Accounts (SSAs) have taken an increasingly significant role in developing a common framework for measuring the economic impact of sport. The EU Working Group on Sport & Economics was established a harmonised statistical definition known as the Vilnius Definition of Sport. The EU Conference on Sport Statistics then covered the statistical needs underpinning the development of sport as a new policy area, discussing the SSAs and a possible future sport monitoring function in the EU.
Recent figures from a study on the economic impact of sport through Sport Satellite Accounts based on this methodology show that the contribution of sport to EU GDP is very signficint – over two percent of EU total employment – once more underlining how sport is an employment intensive sector.
So far, ten EU Member States (i.e. Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Germany, Estonia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Poland and UK) have produced national SSAs, with an additional three countries (i.e. Croatia, Luxembourg, Hungary) currently working on them. A further five countries (i.e. Czech Republic, Italy, Greece, Spain, Finland) have reported positive changes following a technical support from the Commission, where in the short/mid-term a national SSA could be produced – resulting in a majority of EU Member States having completed this work. For the latter group in particular, further technical support from the Commission could be crucial.
EU work plan for sport
The Council’s EU Work Plan for Sport is the main exchange on this topic at the EU Level.; among other priorities, the plan concentrates on sport's economic potential for Europe. Groups such as the EU Expert Group on Sport Statistics, the EU Expert Group on Sustainable Financing of Sport or the EU Expert Group on Sport and Economics have each been tasked with exploring ways to strengthen the economic dimension of sport. In particular, the findings from the EU Expert Group on Sport Statistics were reflected in the Council conclusions on strengthening evidence-based policies. During the current Work Plan a Cluster Meeting was organised on this topic. A Council Conclusion on the economic dimension of sport and its socio-economic benefits was adopted at the end of 2018.
Thanks to cooperation between Eurostat and the Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (DG EAC), sport statistics have been disseminated regularly since 2015. As no Eurostat data collection is devoted specifically to sport, sport statistics are derived from already existing EU surveys. Reflecting sport’s multidisciplinary nature, they currently cover:
- Employment — data from the EU Labour Force Survey;
- International trade in sporting goods — COMEXT data;
- Attendance at live sport events — data from the EU Survey on Income & Living Conditions (SILC) ad-hoc module;
- Active engagement in sport and physical activity — data from the European Health Interview Survey (EHIS).