MOVE Week backed by EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth
MOVE Week starts in one week! And the event wouldn't be able to reach as far and wide as it is this year (almost 700 events so far) without the European Commission and European Parliament's support. In a MOVE Week Special Edition of Sport and Citizenship Journal, ISCA and Sport and Citizenship spoke to European Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou about the challenges faced by the European Commission in the field of sport and physical activity. With a view to promoting health-enhancing physical activity and making more European citizens active, Commissioner Vassiliou presents the European Commission's initiatives and reiterates its support for MOVE Week 2013.
The second edition of the MOVE Week will be organised throughout Europe, from October 7th to October 13th. What is your opinion on this initiative that aims at raising awareness and engages more citizens in sport and physical activity?
I strongly support this initiative, which the European Commission has co-funded. It promotes the benefits of staying fit and encourages people of all ages to be more physically active in their daily lives. The importance of an active and healthy lifestyle and its social and economic benefits needs to be underlined at all times. MOVE Week is a great opportunity to raise awareness among European citizens. It has been planned thoroughly, with original ideas and builds on successful past experience – I am thinking of the MOVE contact points which organise events for the week at school, organisational, municipal or national levels. I am now looking forward to seeing the event scaled up to a European level for the first time.
A Council Recommendation on Health-Enhancing Physical Activity was recently presented by the Commission. Can you tell us more about it?
Indeed, the Commission adopted the first-ever proposal for a Council Recommendation in the field of sport on 28 August. This proposal is an important milestone in the Commission’s efforts to promote health-enhancing physical activity, or HEPA for short. We propose that Member States take measures across all policy sectors that can enable citizens to be or to become physically active. These include, for example, sport, health, education and urban planning. We also propose a light monitoring framework, through which Member States can compare developments and identify trends regarding efforts to promote HEPA. Member States will start discussing the Commission’s ideas this month (September); ideally this will lead to the Council adopting the text before the end of the year. It is good to see that the Lithuanian Presidency is very supportive and eager to ensure progress on this.
2014 will see the launch of the future Erasmus+ programme, in which sport is fully integrated. Which will be the main priorities of this long awaited programme and what are the priorities regarding grassroots sport?
Indeed, 2014 will be the first year of Erasmus+, the new EU programme for education, training, youth and sport. It includes a specific chapter on sport which will enable us to support grassroots sport in particular. We aim at tackling cross-border threats to the integrity of sport such as doping, match-fixing and violence, as well as all kinds of intolerance and discrimination. The programme will also support good governance in sport, the dual careers of athletes and promote voluntary activities in sport. Our aim is also to encourage social inclusion through sport, equal opportunities and to raise awareness of the importance of health-enhancing physical activity. These aims will be achieved in a variety of ways, including cooperation projects between partners from different countries, European non-profit sport events involving several countries, strengthening the evidence base for policy making and dialogue with European stakeholders.
Currently we are working on rules which will explain how to benefit from the programme. I want them to be easy and user-friendly so that we encourage as many grassroots organisations as possible to participate. The budget for sport will be significantly higher than that allocated in previous years for the preparatory actions, thus also creating new opportunities for numerous sport organisations. All the relevant information will be posted regularly on the Commission’s sport website.
You have regularly affirmed your desire to establish a European Week of Sport in 2015. How can the MOVE Week 2013 serve as a test bed in this perspective?
The move to set up a first-ever European Week of Sport has to be seen in the context of recent developments to promote sport and health-enhancing physical activity, notably the 2012 Council Conclusions on HEPA, the proposed Council Recommendation on HEPA, the preparatory projects and the sport chapter in Erasmus+. A new annual large-scale European event should build on existing good practice and will need to take account of established concepts and ideas which have proven to be effective. This is what I believe, and this is what the Council in last year’s conclusions on HEPA has asked the Commission to do. Existing initiatives, such as the MOVE Week, will be very valuable when finalising the concept for the European Week.
This is why my services and I have intensified our dialogue with stakeholders, including the International Sport and Culture Association (ISCA), which have experience in setting up large scale awareness-raising campaigns in sport. We will continue to discuss the concept with relevant stakeholders, with a view to launching the Week of Sport next year and having the first proper European Week of Sport in 2015. Their continued commitment to support an EU-wide campaign will be crucial for its success.