Future Strategy For Fitness and Outdoor Sectors Decided at London Summit

The plenary meeting of the DIAL Project in social dialogue convened at the UK Trades Union head office on 17th September. 60 employers and employers organisations from 20 different EU Member States attended the congress to hear of the latest European initiatives and proposals that will affect the progress in social dialogue, mobility and education, representation of the sector at a European level, some new sector definitions and the establishing of a skills council for fitness and outdoor sectors.

With the appointment of the new EU Commissioners and with a priority placed on skills issues, recognition of qualifications and removing barriers to mobility, there is new significance for actions across the active leisure sector – which is the new European title for fitness and outdoor sectors. The delegates in London gave support and recognition for the work that the European Health and Fitness Association (EHFA) and European Confederation of Outdoor Employers (EC-OE) have been doing in the past year, which has been greatly aided by the EU-funded DIAL Project.

The European Commission, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy and UNI-Europa all gave their views and visions of how good industrial relations can support growth and entrepreneurship of the sector. Fitness alone has over 46,000,000 users across Europe, and is the largest participation “sport” according to the Eurobarometer. The delegates in London were asked to comment on the priorities of a future strategy which concluded that EHFA and EC-OE should continue the work in social dialogue, but with an emphasis to now also help employees to establish better representation, and to focus on some main issues of training, mobility, and to improve levels of good practice in safety. The final point of confirmation was that based on the existing work of EHFA and EC-OE, and with just some minor adjustments in their existing cooperation, they can be easily extended to effectively become a sector skills council for active leisure.

In economic and employment terms the active leisure sector is four times larger than “sport” and with a new agreement on sector definitions, the recognition and representation of active leisure can now be fully realised. Commenting on the proceedings Cliff Collins, EHFA Programmes Director said “the DIAL Project results and especially the London meeting have surpassed our expectations and outcomes. We have had a tremendously high-level of buy-in from employers all across Europe who have now helped us to be confident in the way that we can proceed and that is based on a solid mandate.” Herman Smulders, President of EC-OE added “there cannot be any mistake now about which organisations have the real representation of employers in the active leisure sector.

EHFA and EC-OE have established a pre-eminence in so many areas of EU policy, and through DIAL have also managed to increase their membership with employers, that means we have excellent EU coverage.”

The DIAL Project outcomes and findings will be reported to the Commission in October, and will include further plans for how social dialogue and a sector skills council for active leisure can be pursued. Further information is available at http://www.ehfa-programmes.eu/node/12.


This action has been funded with support from the European Commission (DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion). The information provided in the DIAL project reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.