EU ministers adopted new conclusions this week during the Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council meeting, in which they recalled the economic dimensions of sport and its socio-economic benefits. Member States thus recognize that sport is a major driver for growth and jobs, as well as a means to improve the health and social conditions of citizens. FESI strongly welcomes this political support from the Council and now calls on the national authorities of the Member States to develop real strategies to convince local authorities of the positive impact of sport and the need to develop concrete actions.
All EU Work Plans for Sport, including the current one (2017-2020), acknowledge the economic dimension of sport and the positive impact it has in terms of health. According to a recent study, sport accounts for 2,12% of the EU GDP and sport-related employment accounts for 5,67 million people, ie 2,72% of total EU employment. The health benefits of sport activities for people have been continuously confirmed by evidence-based studies. A recent ISCA report for example outlined that physical inactivity costs the EU 80 billion € per year.
Nevertheless, the EU Council rightly stresses the fact that further work is needed on sport data and indicators, monitoring and awareness raising, promotion of sport activities, fostering international
cooperation and mainstreaming sport in other policy areas in order to better measure and maximize the positive impact of sport on the economy and on citizens.
FESI has worked closely with the Austrian Presidency over the past six months, by providing the non-paper towards an action plan for the sport-related industry, as well as accurate data on the economic dimension of sport from a study in which the sporting goods industry highly contributed1. FESI also took an active part in the Austrian Presidency conference on the economic dimension of sport, during which FESI President, Frank Dassler, stressed that Europe Sporting Goods Market is expected to be valued at 180 billion EUR by 2024. According to Frank Dassler, “Sport is the image of a healthy society. It should be seen as an investment and not as a cost. Therefore, sport is a unique sector that has the power to positively leverage many aspects of a society: health, wellbeing, economic dimension, innovation, healthcare spending, and social inclusion. Any barriers to the development of that sector should be overcome”.
FESI Secretary, General Jérôme Pero, also presented interesting facts and figures during a cluster meeting of the European Commission on the economic benefits of sport, stressing that global sports market – including infrastructure, events, and training and sports goods – is around 500 billion EUR, which is more than the GDP of many countries. “The sporting goods industry is no longer a “sectorial economy,” it is now a “global force” as leaders across Europe begin to recognize the undeniable economic, social and health benefits of the sector. It is a vital cornerstone of successful communities that cannot be left unnoticed”, he declared during the meeting.
Thus, these conclusions represent a significant further step towards the recognition of sport as an economic driver in Europe. It is all the more important that Member States acknowledge it through this political document, as it is in their competence and responsibility to develop effective strategies at national level. Thus, FESI would also like to invite Member States to include sport and physical activities as a cross-cutting priority across other policy areas, such as health, education, transport, urban planning, social and tourism policies, where the contribution of sport has been widely evidenced. For that purpose, FESI also strongly calls the EU institutions to mainstream and increase funding for sport in all EU policies and financial programs after 2020.