As the European Commission prepares to table its first ever EU sports programme in November, lawmakers are calling for initiatives to clearly prioritise funding for grassroots activities.
A handful of members of the European Parliament (MEPs) tabled a written declaration on increased EU support for grassroots sport today (6 September).
The document highlights the possible impact of the economic crisis on sports funding at this level, the contribution of physical activity to key policy areas and the educational role of sport.
MEPs hope to raise awareness of the matter among the EU's institutions and member states, stressing in particular the need for better funding of grassroots sport. Therefore, they call on the European Commission to prioritise grassroots sport as it drafts a communication and proposal for the first EU sports programme.
The Commission's proposals are due to be published on 10 November.
The declaration was put forward by five MEPs from different parties: Polish MEP Joanna Senyszyn and UK member Mary Honeyball (Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats), Belgium's Ivo Belet and Ireland's Sean Kelly (European People's Party), and Finland's Hannu Takkula (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats).
The initiative will be officially launched on 14 September at the European Parliament in Brussels.
Back in June, during a public hearing on physical activity and sport for all organised by the International Sport and Culture Association (ISCA), MEPs and sport stakeholders stressed the role of grassroots sport in delivering the EU's goals of better health and social inclusion, for example.
UK MEP Emma McClarkin (European Conservatives and Reformists) said then that while competitive sport generates money for grassroots sport, the professional game cannot help deliver its goals, calling for grassroots sport to be moved to the top of the EU's list of priorities.
The ISCA is also calling for more support for grassroots sport to give all Europeans the opportunity to be physically active (EURACTIV 22/06/10).
A petition to get 100 million more Europeans to regularly do sport or physical activity by 2020 is currently open for signature on the association's website.