On the 21st of September, the Austrian Presidency launched an international conference on the economic dimension of sport.
The conference brought together high level economic and innovation experts as well as delegates from nearly all EU Member States. For Sport and Citizenship think tank, this conference was not to be missed as it tackled one of the major questions in sport of today: how to use sport as a vehicle to promote growth and employment in Europe.
The opening speech was delivered by Austrian Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, followed by few introductory remarks by Yves Le-Lostecque of the EC, Philipp Trattner of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Sport and Barbara Spindler-Oswald, chair of the Working Party on Sport. In the subsequent panel discussion, proposals came up to acknowledge the significance and growing impact of sport on Europe’s economy. First, defining ways to promote data collection to develop statistics on the economic impact of sport and to measure the value of voluntary work; hence Member States need to make a bigger use of SSA (sport satellite account). Secondly, sport must become a transversal domain in EC policies. Third, the sport sector, in particular sport movements, played and will continue playing a significant role in EU’s migration crisis management.
In the afternoon, Sport and Citizenship think tank attended the workshop on “sport and regional development: contribution to economic growth”. The significance of sport for regional economic growth on a small-scale has been tackled. Once more, the transversal dimension of sport has been stressed as sport impacts other industries, like tourism, technology or health. Hence, sport is highly relevant in the smart specialization strategies conceived within the reformed cohesion policy of the EC. The ClusSport partnership has been given as an example to highlight the impact of sport on economic growth within interregional cooperation. Finally, the contextualization of collected data has been emphasized as a means of convincing policymakers on the economic benefits of sport.