A look back on the 2017 EU Sport Forum

On 8th and 9th of March, stakeholders gathered in St Julian’s, Malta for the 2017 edition of the EU Sport Forum. Organised by the European Commission in collaboration with the Maltese Presidency of the European Union, this event is the main platform for dialogue between European institutions and the main stakeholders of European sport.

On the menu, this year: exchanges on usual topics (promotion of grassroots sports, good governance, …) as well as emerging areas of interest like eco-responsibility of sport events, the contribution of digital innovation or e-sport.

The event was also the occasion to come back on the EU Work plan for sport 2014-2017. Surprisingly, the next work plan was not presented or discussed during the forum.

Securing positions

Traditional topics were debated including the need to reinforce the support to grassroots sports, in particular with increased funding for small scale Erasmus+ projects (from 3.3mn euros in 2016 to 5mn in 2017 and 6.5mn in 2018). Commissioner Navracsics announced that since the start in 2014, 1500 organisations benefited from the programme.

With 210 million Europeans inactive, sedentary behaviours remains also a high priority on the agenda of the European Commission and the successive presidencies. To this end, a new Eurobarometer on sport and physical activity will be launched this year. Results will be available from early 2018.

Good governance discussions once more made their way to the EU Sport Forum programme, highlighted by several organisations signing the Pledge for good governance launched by the Commissioner in 2016.

Exploring new fields

Several new topics were on the agenda this year, namely sustainable sports events, digital innovation in sports and e-sports. The latest one sparked interest. E-sports have rapidly gained popularity among youngsters and represented a new phenomenon which does not respond to traditional sports organisations habits.  Numerous questions were raised on the opportunity and relevance to consider it a real sport, especially in the face of the physical inactivity crisis.

New features for the European Week of Sport

The Forum ended with a seminar on the European Week of Sport for National Coordinating Bodies and European partners, including Sport and Citizenship. As announced already, from 2017 onwards the event will take place from 23rd to 30th September every year. The official opening of the next edition will be held on September 23rd in Tartu, Estonia

The European Commission is confident that the framework put in place in 2015 and 2016 is now well-established and the EWoS “brand” is getting good traction. As a consequence, the 2017 communication campaign will lean more towards storytelling. New elements of communication will be created, including weekly newsletter for the EWoS key players and a monthly newsletter for the wider public

The EU-wide connected run will be of  the main innovations, without further detail for now.

Sport et citoyenneté