No repeat of ash cloud at EU Sport Forum

The third EU Sport Forum took place in Budapest last week (21-22 February), with hundreds of st...

The third EU Sport Forum took place in Budapest last week (21-22 February), with hundreds of stakeholders from across Europe, including the Sport and Recreation Alliance, coming together to discuss current EU policy in the field of sport. 
The forum started on a positive note, with delegates clearly delighted by the absence of the infamous volcanic ash cloud that severely hampered travel plans at last year’s forum in Madrid. 
The main topic of discussion was the European Commission’s Communication on ‘Developing the European Dimension in Sport’ which was published in January, but a large portion of the first day was dedicated to current EU-funded pilot projects, or so called ‘preparatory actions’. The Sport and Recreation Alliance has been heavily involved in one of these projects – Women’s International Leadership Development (WILD) – so it was particularly pleasing to witness the enthusiasm that delegates showed for this project. 
Following some slightly long-winded speeches on the second day, there was time for plenty of interesting debate on a variety of pertinent topics. Perhaps the most significant of these related to the likelihood of a full-scale EU sports programme from 2014. With European institutions currently negotiating plans for the next multi-annual financial framework from 2014-2020, delegates were keen to know whether sport will be granted a separate budget-line to facilitate further action at European level. European Commissioner for Education, Youth and Sport Androulla Vassiliou said that it was still unclear whether sport would be allocated an official budget at a time of unprecedented budgetary constraint. She said that the sports movement in Europe must rally behind this cause and push as hard as it can for national governments to agree to a European sports programme from 2014. 
Other topics discussed included the sustainable financing of sport, social inclusion, free movement of sportspeople, anti-doping, intellectual property rights, the autonomous nature of sport, health, players’ agents and integrity. Stakeholders from across the sporting spectrum put their questions to the Commission and panel, which included representatives from the European Parliament, International Olympic Committee and several European sporting federations and associations. Consensus among the sporting fraternity on several of these issues is strong so it remains for legislators, at both national and European level, to act accordingly. From a European perspective, this will be made much harder by an absence of appropriate funding. 
Hopefully the answer to this problem will be clearer by the time of the 2012 EU Sport Forum in Cyprus. 
David Foster
UK & EU Policy Officer at the Sport and Recreation Alliance