“To give the sport sector an appropriate support”
Chair of the European Parliament’s Culture and Education Committee, German MEP Sabine Verheyen faces many topical issues for European sport. Covid-19, Work Plan 2021-2024… an overview of current issues.
How is sport included in the CULT Committee’s work plan ?
SV : The European Parliament, and specifically its Committee on Culture and Education (CULT), have always been keen to support EU action in the field of sport. This parliamentary term is no different, as early legislature proved when several Member States (MS) stressed the importance of sport to promote integration, social inclusion and public health during the hearing of (then) Commissioner designate Mariya Gabriel. Last year, political group coordinators defined new political priorities including ‘to shape the future of the Union’s sport policy’- CULT will hence see to it that the EU has the necessary regulatory and policy framework to do so. Short term, CULT is defending Erasmus+ sport’s scope in mobility throughout the first reading while also ensuring the programme effectively supports grassroots sport. Medium term, the CULT Committee aims to develop further sport expertise by requesting a research study assessing the suitability of current EU policy and regulatory framework and looking at possible future initiatives. CULT will then draw up an own-initiative report on sport, with proposals and policy recommendations. The report is likely to coincide with the establishment of the forthcoming EU Work Plan for Sport for 2021-2024.
How has the recent COVID crisis affected the sport sector ?
SV : With planned events having been suspended, cancelled or postponed, the sport sector has particularly suffered (professional and grassroots) with livelihoods threatened on many different levels. The Parliament is deeply concerned by the damage cast over sport, as we continuously stress the benefits sport brings to the economy, society and public health- we are very aware of the need to give the sector appropriate support.
While sport policy remains under national governments’ power, the EU’s response to the crisis seeks to also help sport in the short term through :
▪ The “Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative” enables the Structural Funds to support small businesses and employment schemes. Additionally, projects dealing with Covid-19 impact now qualify for 100% financing and loosed thematic concentration rules.
▪ The Commission fast-tracked MS derogation requests from state aid rules, enabling support for struggling businesses.
▪ The instrument for temporary “Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency” (SURE) enables the Commission to make up to 100 billion EUR of loans available to MS to shore up jobs, protect businesses, self-employed and fund temporary furlough schemes.
The consequent economic and social fallout will require substantial medium and long-term responses, which is why the long-term EU budget needs boosted by the €750 billion recovery instrument. Our duty over the coming months is to
build and adopt that package.