01/07/2013 Marie-Christine Vergiat : "Giving operational support to grass-roots sports associations"

Marie-Christine Vergiat, a Member of the European Parliament Culture and Education Commission, actively defends the idea of European action on behalf of sport for all and recognition of people involved in it.

Interview from Sport and Citizenship 23rd issue quarter about "Sport, Health and Well-Being".

To what extent does the European Parliament take the health and well-being aspect of physical activity into account? think tank founded in 2007 focusses on the role of sport in European societies. It publishes a quarterly review on issues related to sport and citizenship. 

Marie-Christine Vergiat : For a lot of people sport is above all a means to good health. Naturally this aspect of sporting activities is supported by the European Parliament.

However, this is not their only aspect. In its resolution on the European dimension of sport (2012) , the Parliament also wanted to take account of the social, economic, educational and cultural aspect of these activities by recognising the social dimension of grass-roots sport and by ensuring that anyone and everyone can have access to it.

To this end, the Parliament asked the Member States to see that sport is part of the curriculum in all teaching establishments at every level, and to encourage people to do activities from the earliest age and throughout their life. Because talking is not enough, suitable public funding needs to be made available, for example for the associations and other organisations involved.

That is what the budgetary framework 2014-2020 envisages in the “Erasmus for All” programme. What do you expect from this?

Marie-Christine Vergiat : With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, the EU acquired new competences in sport including the possibility of working out a specific European programme, backed by a budget.

During the period 2014-2020 sport will have an ad-hoc budget heading in the “Erasmus for All” programme. Even though negotiations with the Commission and the Council are still ongoing, we have managed to hang on to this. We want particular attention to be given to grass-roots sport and access to sport for all. These are fine objectives and I hope that to make them happen we will succeed in reintroducing the possibility of operational support for grass-roots sports associations and not just funding for projects and sporting events.

In a written declaration (2010), you called on the Commission to envisage the creation of a European statute for associations, mutual societies and foundations. What would the advantages of this be for sport?

Marie-Christine Vergiat : The adoption of this declaration is an important sign towards recognition at the European level of those involved in the social economy.

These European statutes should not replace national statutes, but should make it easier to regroup associations from different EU member states, or to develop shared activities and should make movement and exchanges easier. It is also and above all a key tool in the construction of real European citizenship, which should not just be citizenship of the Member States added together.
This concerns sporting associations and all other associations that want to act at the European level and that currently have to be content with the statute of a Member State. Given the number of sporting associations in existence in every Sate in the EU, they should be the first to reap the benefits.

The statute for European foundations is soon to be adopted now, and advances have been made for mutual societies, but unfortunately we are up against a brick wall when it comes to associations. I deeply regret this, but I hope that 2013, the European Year of Citizens, will enable us to move forward.


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