EU political sport directors have highlighted the importance of physical activity in improving public health and quality of life, with benefits going beyond the fight against obesity.
EU sports directors met on 12-14 July 2007 to discuss, among other issues, the recently published Commission White Paper on sport and its three main dimensions linked to the societal and economic roles of sport as well as its organisation. On the agenda were also the issues of health policies and the financing of sport through gambling and internet gaming.
Regarding health, the directors highlighted the importance of physical activity in “improving individual and public health, quality of life and life expectancy, with benefits that range far beyond the struggle against obesity and have a major impact on medical care costs”.
The meeting conclusions urge governments, sports federations, the education sector, urban planning, transport and the media to work more actively to promote physical activity and “create a living environment that encourages the largest number of people to become physically active”.
As to gambling and internet gaming, the sports chiefs proposed, after discussions on the current situation and legal framework, “a concerted policy among member states or a new directive on the issue”. However, they reiterated that maintaining state control over gambling is necessary to ensure funding for sports.
The directors did not make any definitive position statements on the White Paper as they concluded that further time was required for consultation at national level.
An EU informal meeting of sports ministers will take place on 25 October 2007.