Sport and physical activity are an essential part of the lives of millions of European citizens and strongly embedded in Europe's societies. In 2011 the Commission adopted a strategy to develop the European dimension in sport.
The EU is home to around 700 000 sport clubs.
Important for physical and mental wellbeing, sport also brings communities together. Around 60% of the EU's population regularly take part in some kind of sport or physical activity, while the EU is home to around 700 000 sport clubs. Sport is also a large and fast-growing sector of the economy and makes an important contribution to growth and jobs.
Under its programme of preparatory actions in the field of sport 2009-13, the EU has been funding transnational projects to identify and test suitable networks and good practices in this field. These projects cover the following areas:
While sport and physical activity already benefits from EU support in other policy fields (education, youth, health, social inclusion and regional policy), the projects mentioned here are designed to prepare the launch of the EU's first specific funding programme for sport, as part of the EU's new programme for education, training, youth and sport running from 2014-20.
Sport is one of the avenues through which the EU seeks to promote physical activity, through the exchange and promotion of good practice between EU countries and with relevant stakeholders. The EU Physical Activity Guidelines (2008) shows how national policies across different sectors can encourage people to become more physically active. In addition, the EU Platform for diet, physical activity and health brings together organisations to discuss dietary trends and physical activity.
The EU aims to promote and encourage sport and physical activity.
The practice of doping in sport undermines the principle of fair competition, discourages people from taking part in or following sport and poses a real risk to health. The EU provides funding to research projects in this area, as well as under the preparatory action mentioned above. It is also in regular contact with relevant bodies, including the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Sport can bridge social divides and bring together people from all walks of life. The EU encourages its 27 Member States to include initiatives that use sport to enhance social inclusion when applying for support from the European Social Fund and European Regional Development Fund. Transnational projects have also received funding under the preparatory actions.
The EU encourages police services and sport authorities to share information on supporters who pose a potential risk. The Commission supports the Football against Racism in Europe network.
The EU respects the autonomy and self-regulation of sport organisations within the limits of the law, democracy, transparency and accountability in decision-making, and inclusiveness in the representation of interested stakeholders.
The Commission encourages employers, athletes and sport workers to use European social dialogue to shape labour relations in the sport sector.