European Commission is organising its annual EU Sport Forum this week in Milan, Italy. Tibor Navracsics, new Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, opened the Forum on Monday together with representatives from the Italian Presidency of the Council and the European Parliament. The Committee of the Regions was represented by the chair of EDUC commission, Anton Rombouts (NL/EPP), Mayor of 's Hertogenbosch, who participated with the Commissioner in a high-level debate on the future of sport at EU level.
The aim of the debate was to exchange views on European policy in the field of sport and the direction that will be given by the new Commission. One of the main themes was promoting and developing sport for all at grassroots level. Among other participants were Santiago Fisas Ayxelà, Member of the European Parliament, and Patrick Hickey, President of European Olympic Committees.
In his speech, Mr Rombouts pointed out the growing importance of sport as a political object within the European Union. The Council of the EU adopted the new EU Work Plan on Sport for 2014-2017 in May, and year 2015 will see the implementation of the first European Week of Sport. Rombouts also emphasized the fundamental role of local and regional authorities in developing the European dimension of sport. They are motivating people to take up sport, provide funding for sports activities and facilities and support associations and voluntary activity in the sector. Sport can help to facilitate social inclusion and contribute to reaching Europe 2020 targets.
"In my opinion, sport is one of the essential binding elements in our society nowadays. One of the answers to the European grand societal and economic challenges starts with our ability to make our citizens vital and healthy. When education, healthcare, societal institutions, business and the sports sector work together in stimulating a healthy way of living, we create the base for a healthier and stronger Europe in the future. Working together on the basis of shared interests and shared ambitions is therefore essential", Rombouts stressed.
Rombouts reminded that CoR has adopted an own-initiative opinion (rapporteur: Jacques Blanc (FR/EPP)), where it calls for the European Commission to support specific actions and projects that promote sport for people with a disability at the local and regional levels. He also suggested that the establishment of an annual "European Day for Sport for People with a Disability" should be envisaged.