The European Commissioner responsible for sport, Androulla Vassiliou, has unveiled plans for a European Week of Sport, with the first week taking place in September 2015.
Encouraged by member states, the Commission has established the event to promote exercise and sport at all levels. In September 2013, Vassiliou revealed the plans to EurActiv, saying that more focus on sports and getting Europeans out of their chairs could reverse the growing trend of obesity. The Commission will provide funding for the European Week of Sport via Erasmus+, the new European programme for education, training, youth and sport.
According to World Obesity, excess bodyweight among children has risen across Europe in recent decades. Data from 7,000 preschool children show that 19.7% of Greece’s population is overweight or obese, compared to 16% in Spain, 11.6% in Belgium and 9.9% in Germany. The data suggested that children in lower income families were more likely to be overweight.
At the same time, a new study report published by Gothenburg University shows that half of North and Central European parents are unaware of their children’s obesity and around 40% believe their child is underweight.
“Regular exercise and participation in sport and physical activity is known to be one of the best and most effective means of tackling excess weight and obesity. If we manage to get more people in Europe out of their chairs more often we can make a huge difference,” the Commissioner said in an interview.
The Commission will coordinate events and activities throughout Europe, but organisations can sign up to its objectives and receive guidance from the Commission and a European Week of Sport label.
The Commission will also encourage national awareness-raising activities. As the EU’s executive believes that no one size fits all, national traditions and sport conventions will be respected. Vassiliou stated that member states’ engagement is needed to fully involve regional and local stakeholders in the organisation of the events.
“This is vital to the success of the European Week of Sport,” she said. “Our aim is for a great Europe-wide experience which will help people change their lifestyles, while having fun at the same time.”
The idea to establish a European Week of Sport originated in the European Parliament as part of the 2012 Fisas Report, named after its author, the Spanish MEP Santiago Fisas. Member states have also called on the Commission to consider establishing a European Week of Sport to promote physical activity and participation in sport at all levels.
Erasmus+ includes, for the first time, a dedicated budget line for sport. It will allocate around €265 million over seven years to contribute to developing the European dimension in sport by helping to address cross-border threats such as match fixing and doping. It will also support transnational projects involving organisations in grassroots sport, promoting, for example, good governance, social inclusion, gender equality, dual careers and physical activity for all.
- Sept. 2015: The first European Week of Sport to take place.
- Press release: Vassiliou unveils plans for First European Week of Sport