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Brussels, 18 October 2001

The European Commission proposes declaring 2004 the European Year of Education through Sport

On a proposal from Viviane Reding, the Commissioner for Education, Culture and Sport, the Commission proposes proclaiming 2004 the "European Year of Education through Sport". The Year, which will coincide with the Olympic Games in Athens, will be marked by Community and national initiatives aimed at encouraging lasting cooperation between educational institutions and sports organisations and giving more emphasis to sports activities and transmission of sporting values in education. The Commission proposes a budget of EUR 11.5 million for the European Year of Education through Sport.

"In proposing to make 2004 the European Year of Education through Sport, the Commission wishes to show that sport is not only a spectator entertainment but also has a strong social dimension and is a powerful educational instrument and tool for promoting integration" said Viviane Reding, adding: "The Olympic and Paralympic Games in Athens are an opportunity that we in Europe must not miss to put forward our vision of sport. In this, I am sure that the Commission will have the backing of the European Parliament, the Education and Sports Ministers, the teaching fraternity and the sports organisations."

With one European in three actively practising a sport, and a network of 600 000 clubs, sport is a major social and economic phenomenon in the European Union, as the Nice European Council recognised last December. The European Council invited the Community institutions to take more account of the social, educational and cultural functions of sport.

Education is a prime area for responding to this invitation. And in fact the Commission, jointly with the International Olympic Committee, recently agreed a schools information campaign on ethical values in sport and Olympic ideals (Cf. IP/01/1269 of 14 September 2001).

The objectives of the European Year of Education through Sport will be:

  • To encourage the education sector and the sports organisations to work together in order to exploit the educational and social integration value of sport. Sport teaches young people teamwork and tolerance.

  • To emphasise the importance of voluntary activities within the sports movement as an aspect of informal education. One of the measures envisaged by the Commission during the Year of Sports is to send young volunteers from all the countries of Europe to assist in the smooth running of the Olympics and Paralympics in Athens.

  • To promote school exchanges built around sporting and cultural activities.

  • To encourage schools to give more importance to sports activities in their curricula.

  • To find solutions regarding the education of young top-level sportspersons, whose sports careers are beginning earlier and earlier, often to the detriment of their education and hence of their future.

The European Year of Education through Sport ties in with other Community initiatives aimed at combating discrimination and social exclusion. It will also be open to the applicant countries for EU membership and to the EFTA countries.

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