EuropeActive attended on Wednesday, 6th March 2019 the conference on Sport & Regional development, an interesting opportunity to keep updated on the future of sport in European cities. The event’s focus was placed on the key role of local institutions and physical activity as a social link to connect cities and regions.
President of Urban Intergroup, MEP Jan Olbrycht provided some initial remarks placing sport as a social element: “investing in sport activity can have positive consequences in social elements”. He also asked for more funds to support sport infrastructures focused on social purposes. Keynote speech was given by European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Tibor Navracsics, who defended “the need to break down boundaries between policy areas” in order to support our towns and cities in making the most of sport. He also highlighted successful projects like the ‘Sport & Refugees’ programme as examples of local and regional development.
Session I, moderated by EOC EU Office Director Folker Hellmund, focused on the Role of sport & physical activity as drivers for vibrant regions and cohesive communities. Speakers’ interventions placed the focus on the power of sport to transform a city, the importance of social dimension playing a role at local level and the need to work on regulation and social investments.
Good practices regarding the benefits of sport & physical activity at the local level was Session’s II key theme, moderated by MEP Jordi Sole (Urban Intergroup). Speakers concentrated on sports and physical activity as effective solutions to achieve cohesive communities. However, they demanded further efforts at local level, where research is considerably poorer than at national level. Ghent and Amsterdam were presented as good examples of active and efficient cities in terms of local initiatives supporting sport & physical activity.
Some concluding remarks were introduced by Lucian Mircescu, Chairman of the Working Party on Sport, who encourage local authorities and institutions to strengthen co-operation in order to boost local and regional growth through sport & physical activity.
The Sport Intergroup also announced they will organise a “farewell” cocktail the next 2nd of April 2019 at the EU Parliament. It will be the occasion to meet and thank hundreds of sport stakeholders who has been attending the meetings and joined the group works in these 5 years. The MEPs will also present a “white book” on sport to gather in a document all the initiatives lead by the Sport Intergroup in this finishing legislature.