Active Cities: a European perspective
In urban areas access to sport facilities and infrastructures is crucial to allow and promote the practice of sport and physical activity. Integrated strategies linking sport across all urban policies are however required to achieve truly “active” cities.
2019, March 28th
Roland Farkas, Policy Assistant, Sport Unit Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture European Commission
At the European Commission, promoting physical activity and healthy lifestyles is an important priority. There is nowadays extensive evidence on the multitude of health benefits of regular physical activity as well as its impact on the economy, in particular through healthcare expenditure. At EU level, there are increasing efforts to strengthen such cooperation across policies. This is a joined effort involving EU institutions and Member States. That is why the Council adopted a Recommendation on health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA) where urban planning is clearly identified as one of the main themes. At the initiative of Commissioner Navracsics the “Tartu call for a healthy lifestyle” has been signed by three Commissioners who have agreed on a list of joint actions. Also, the European Week of Sport (EWoS) aims to inspire citizens to be more active in their daily lives.
In a wider context, a study on the contribution of sport to regional development through the Structural Funds was published. It encompasses a great number of best practices from cities and regions about how sport-related projects have contributed to local economies, employment and social cohesion. A direct outcome of this is the development of the Sport Action Network, a gathering of organisations from the sport movement as well as public and private entities which aims at facilitating sport-led local development. It does so through 1) sharing information and further developing the knowledge base on how sport initiatives can be supported at local and regional level; 2) raising awareness on active territories and demonstrating the impacts and sustainability of projects on the ground; 3) ensuring sport is duly represented in the post-2020 EU policy agenda, especially in terms of access to the European Structural and Investment Funds.
Additionally, the ClusSport partnership was launched within the Smart Specialisation Platform for Industrial Modernisation that aims to support EU regions committed (currently nine) to generate a pipeline of business investment projects in the sport sector. It is based on interregional cooperation to mobilise the full potential of entrepreneurship and innovation in regional value chains by taking into account the cross-sectoral spillover effects of sport and physical activity.
Finally, the European Commission is funding projects in the field of HEPA, through the sport chapter of the Erasmus+ programme. So far, 56 projects were financed and several of them focused or are focusing on cities. Also, the European Parliament has proposed for 2018 a pilot project on the promotion of European values through sport initiatives at the municipal level, which will be implemented by the European Commission.