Conference on the Economic Dimension of Sport “Sport for Growth and Employment” was organised by the Austrian EU Presidency in Vienna on 21 September.
The event was opened by Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, who underlined in his opening remarks that sport sector contributes an impressive 6% to the GDP of Austria. Furthermore, he continued that the value of voluntary work needs to be additionally taken into account since it´s not included in the Sport Satellite Accounts. Also the other speakers of the opening session presented remarkable facts about the economic value of sport and physical activity. For instance, Philipp Trattner from the Federal Ministry of Civil Service and Sport of Austria, reminded the audience that 1 EUR invested in sport saves 5 EUR in health care costs.
The opening session was followed by a plenary panel on the conference topic, which was moderated by Director of the EOC EU Office, Folker Hellmund. In his introduction he stressed the current momentum for the mainstreaming of sport into different EU funding programmes. “The discussions on the EU funding programmes after 2020 are currently in an important phase. As we heard already in the opening speeches, we have so much facts and figures on the economic impact of sport to health, employment, tourism, regional policy etc. All sport stakeholders need to work now to get sport fully integrated into different funding schemes of the European Union in the post-2020 period, as we know how remarkable the contribution of sport is for European society. We need to fully tap this potential”.
In the discussion the panellists, Wladimir Andreff from the French Observatory of the Sports Economy, Sir Graham Watson from Europe Active, Stefan Bergh from ENGSO and Martti Ainonen from the Lapland University of Applied Sciences brought to the discussion different viewpoints on the economic dimension of sport, being it the major sport events, health aspects, the value of voluntary work or sport’s impact on tourism.
After the panel discussion, the afternoon programme contained three workshops:
1. Sport and regional development,
2. Sport and Innovation: spill over effects for the whole economy,
3. Methodological aspects: harmonization of standards in the EU.
In the workshop on regional development, it became evident, that the existing database is much better than before. However, neither the EU institutions nor the Members States have sufficiently acknowledged the enormous economic potential of sport on employment or GDP.
The economic dimension of sport is a priority topic for the Austrian Presidency. The Sports Ministers of the EU member states are planned to adopt Council conclusions on the topic in the Council meeting in November.
For further information: News of the Austrain Presidency