EESC opinion: Developing the European dimension in sport

Key points

The recommendations in the EESC's opinion:

The EESC highlights its great interest in, and commitment to, developing the European dimension in sport with due regard for the subsidiarity principle.

The importance of the European dimension in sport is clear, in terms of both funding programmes and specific measures in this sector and developing specific platforms for dialogue and the exchange of information.

Sport helps improve the quality of people's lives and their life expectancy and also makes the European economy more productive and competitive. The EESC calls for participation in sport to be promoted and for EU action to be taken to achieve this.

The Committee reiterates the need to improve sports centres, changing rooms and other infrastructures, to enable people to participate in sports in good conditions and at an affordable price.

The EESC considers that particular attention should be paid to the most disadvantaged groups in sport, such as people with disabilities and the elderly.

The Committee reiterates its call for particular attention to be paid to the representation of women in sport and for gender equality be mainstreamed in this area.

It is of particular concern to the EESC that sportsmen and women receive a decent education. In line with the principle of pursuing a dual career, they must be given the opportunity to start and develop a career in sports without leaving school. For this to happen, sports coaches should also be trained to instil the right values in the young people they are training.

It is essential that these not-for-profit sports organisations be supported, either through the provision of appropriate financial resources or by encouraging voluntary activity.

Active cooperation between professional and not-for-profit organisations is also required, because the sport's future depends on it. The EESC considers it a priority to find sustainable forms of financing to make such cooperation viable.

The EESC agrees with the Commission proposal that it is crucial to support and establish continuous dialogue between the social partners and sports organisations to explore and discuss sports-related issues, such as education and training, the protection of minors, health and safety, employment, working conditions and contract stability.

Violence in sport is deplorable and requires resolute action to eradicate it, through both policing and appropriate criminal legislation. The EU can and must act as coordinator for Member State initiatives, with a view to improving the exchange of information on the most effective ways to act.

The EESC acknowledges the problem of doping in sports. Discussions must take place at both EU and Member State levels on how to combat it.

The Committee is particularly concerned at the growth of the illegal and unregulated betting and lotteries sector, where there is a clear lack of regulation and appropriate sanctions. Regulating the illegal betting market is crucial for ensuring genuine competition and transparency in sport.

The Committee urges the Commission to follow this matter closely and to establish a guiding framework for regulating the illegal betting market.