On 26 November of 2013 the Council adopted the first ever Council Recommendation in sport, notably on promoting health-enhancing physical activity across sectors (HEPA). It also adopted Council conclusions on the ‘Contribution of sport to the EU economy, and in particular to addressing youth unemployment and social inclusion’. The Council also held a policy debate on ‘Good governance in sport’.
The Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Council met in Brussels on 25 and 26 November 2013 (see Council press release).
The initiative aims at encouraging the development and implementation of effective cross-sectoral HEPA policies in the Member States in the areas of sport, health, education, environment and transport. It contains a shared understanding that more can be done together to address the high rates of physical inactivity in the EU and the economic and social costs related to it.
The Recommendation is based on a proposal that the Commission adopted on 28 August.
The implementation of the new initiative will now require joint efforts and the Commission confirmed its intention to support this process, for example by providing financial support from the Sport Chapter of Erasmus+. The implementation of this HEPA Recommendation "on the ground" should start soon.
It sets out a monitoring framework with a minimal set of reporting requirements on general aspects of HEPA promotion that can be addressed by all member states. It will be implemented in close synergy and cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO), thereby avoiding duplication of data collection. Physical activity, as recommended by the WHO, is a prerequisite for a healthy lifestyle and a healthy workforce, thus contributing also to the achievement of key objectives defined in the Europe 2020 Strategy, notably with regard to growth, productivity and health.
EU-wide surveys, including the 2010 Eurobarometer on sport and physical activity, indicate that 60 % of EU citizens claim to seldom or never engage in physical exercise. Data available at national levels confirms the general trends, as well as revealing significant differences between member states.
Two member states considered that there was no sufficient cross-border component in this initiative, therefore they saw no need for EU action. Competence on these matters should remain with member states.