At their first ever official meeting, the EU's 27 sports ministers asked the European Commission to draft a policy framework that highlights the educational and social role of sport.
Yesterday (10 May) European sports ministers held their first ever formal policy debate on how to incorporate sport into EU policy.
Now that the EU has a competence on the matter, sport will no longer continue to be merely a major financial activity, they stressed. "Beyond that, we recognise its education and social role", Spanish Secretary of State for Sport Jaime Lissavetzky told the press after the meeting.
He said that all delegations had agreed that the EU's "leading role in sport should focus on social considerations".
The ministers' conclusions set out five broad objectives and priorities for future EU action in the field. But according to Lissavetzky, several ministers stressed that more studies and data were needed to help shape policies.
First, ministers stress the social and educational functions of sport and the need to promote training, health-enhancing physical activity and social inclusion through sport.
The second priority focuses on volunteer-based sports structures and ensuring that they are sustainably financed. The Commission is currently awaiting the final results of a study on the financing of grassroots sport in the EU.
The promotion of fairness and openness in sport is to be promoted by more effectively fighting racism, discrimination and violence.
Ministers also highlight the need to protect the physical and moral integrity of sportspeople, primarily by fighting doping and protecting minors. EU Sports Ccommissioner Androulla Vassiliou promised to cooperate closely with the anti-doping world and the Council of Europe on the matter.
Finally, ministers also sought to strengthen EU-level dialogue and cooperation with the sports movement to address different priority themes, such as the promotion of good governance, Vassiliou said.
The Commission is committed to including these priorities in its upcoming communication on sport. The paper, due in November, should allow the EU to agree common policies in 2011.