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European Commission

[Check Against Delivery]


Member of the European Commission for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth

Why sport is a winner for the EU economy, jobs and health

Informal meeting of the Sports-related industries

Brussels, 21 January 2014

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,

A very warm welcome, also from my side. As Commissioner in charge of sport, I am very pleased to see you so numerous here today, and to see many familiar faces.

From the perspective of European sport policy, the timing of today's conference couldn't be better, as we are about to enter a new phase in our co-operation with Member States and stakeholders in this area.

Later this week, the Commission will table a report on the first multi-annual EU Work Plan for Sport, which will serve as a basis for the Council to adopt a new work plan for work over the coming years. One of the themes on which we should focus is the economic dimension of sport, backed up by proposals for concrete action.

Financial support for sport exchanges, including potentially on this issue, will soon start flowing from the new Erasmus+ programme 2014-2020, the first ever EU spending programme to target sport.

I strongly believe in the sport industry sector's potential to contribute not just to the development of European sport, but to Europe's economic recovery as well.

Sport represents a significant and fast-growing sector of the economy and already makes an important contribution to growth and jobs, with value added and employment effects growing faster than other sectors.

A study on the contribution of sport to economic growth and employment in the EU that we carried in 2011 shows that 1.76% of EU-wide Gross Value Added and 2.12% of employment are sport-related. And if multiplier effects are taken into account, the share of sport in overall gross value added reaches almost three percent.

The share of sport in European value added is therefore comparable to the share of agriculture, forestry, and fishing sectors combined, with every sixtieth Euro generated and earned in the EU being sport-related. These are impressive figures.

As a labour-intensive growing industry, sport is a sector with a high economic value, one which can definitely contribute to creating opportunities for employment. This is why we urge Member States to keep these facts in mind when designing public policies or when making investment decisions, for instance in sport facilities and infrastructure.

And this is also why we strive to improve the evidence base on the economic importance of the sector and its potential to contribute to Europe's broader social and economic goals, as they come together in the Europe 2020 strategy.

Since 2006 we have been working with Member States and experts on the development of a common European approach for measuring the economic impact of sport.

A first important result was the Vilnius Definition of Sport, as a basis for the collection and production of data at national level. This definition serves today as a harmonised framework for creating sport satellite accounts - SSAs. SSAs provide macro-economic statistics about the sport economy.

Currently six Member States [AT, CY, DE, NL, PL, UK] and Switzerland have produced national SSAs and other Member States are also joining the process.

As for the future, we propose to pursue work at expert level to gather further information and data on sport and physical activity – with a special focus on strengthening evidence, for instance on sport's role in increasing employability and health care savings. I am also in favour of measures related to the sustainable development of sport. Support for expert work to explore the economic sustainability of major sport events could also be envisaged.

It is this focus on the health and social dimension of sport however that has given us the impetus to work on the development of a European Week of Sport, which we intend to launch in June this year, with the first proper European Week of Sport taking place in 2015.

The idea is simply to encourage citizens to engage in sport and to become more physically active, with, most importantly, the close involvement of the sport movement and sport-related industry. Looking around the table, many of you have already discussed this concept with us and I look forward to pushing ahead in the course of this year.

In the same context, I would also underline that the Council has recently adopted a major policy document, namely the Recommendation on promoting health-enhancing physical activity, which, alongside our new programme 'Erasmus+', will frame our work in this policy area.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

These were just some preliminary reflections on recent and planned activities within our shared EU sport policy dialogue. We are often called upon by stakeholders to better mainstream sport into other EU policies. Today's meeting is such an opportunity. You have different Commission services present here today, ready to listen to your views on how best to promote the positive effects that sport has on the economy.

I encourage you to participate actively in this discussion, and look forward to hearing your ideas.

Thank you.

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