Both, the Sport Unit of the European Commission and the current Presidency of the Council of the EU published documents on the future EU Work Plan on Sport this January. The EU Work Plan for Sport is a multi-annual framework, by which the Council establishes the priorities and objectives of sport policy at European level. The current Work Plan for the period 2014-2017 is ending after the first half of this year and the framework for the next years is being discussed in the Council Working Party on Sport.
The EOC EU Office had published an assessment of the last Work Plan in September last year, which came to the conclusion that the Council Expert Groups did not always focus on topics, where the EU provided a real added value, and were generally inflexible regarding the working structures and questionable in impact. Subsequently, the EOC EU Office proposed the introduction of more flexibility of the working structures based on a solution-driven approach, a limitation of observers and the mainstreaming of sport in other policy areas.
In preparation for the third EU Work Plan for Sport, the European Commission published its final report on the last Plan’s evaluation on 23 January 2017. This evaluation is based on a questionnaire sent to Member States and Member States’ experts as well as to observers participating in the Expert Groups. According to the Commission’s evaluation, the second Work Plan has met expectations, although some areas for improvement can be identified. The vast majority of answers to the questionnaire agreed that the Work Plan focused on the right priorities (91%), while 61% of respondents agreed the Work Plan led to fruitful outcomes for the policy process. 46% of contributors agreed that the Work Plan improved cooperation between Member States and the sport movement at national level, compared to 38% of respondents who disagreed. The Commission outlines four general improvements: adapting the time frame to coincide with the end of the financial period in 2020, more flexibility during the implementation of the Work Plan, increased interaction with other policy fields, and a reinforcement of synergies with the Erasmus+ programme. The Commission also recommends a stronger focus on implementing the practical outcomes and existing results of the first two EU Work Plans, which has not been achieved in the past. It furthermore proposes a better coordination and clearer connection between the work done under the EU Work plan for Sport and the rotating EU Presidencies.
Continuity of priorities from the previous plans should be considered, while stronger links with the current problems in the sport world should also be sought. A more focused scope of the work of Expert Groups would be beneficial. The EU structured dialogue with sport organizations could also be improved from its current form. The Commission further suggests to better link the priorities included in the future EU Work Plan with the political priorities set out by the European Union, in order to increase the political impact of the Work Plan.
The discussion paper published by the Maltese Council presidency picks up the basic outlines of the Commission’s evaluation and poses a number of questions related to this to the EU Member States.
The new EU Work Plan for Sport is expected to be adopted during the Education, Youth, Culture and Sports Council on 23 May 2017.
EOC EU Office: Assessment of the EU Work Plan for Sport 2014-2017 and Orientations for the future EU Work Plan for Sport 2017-2020
Report from the Commission on the implementation and relevance of the European Union Work Plan for Sport 2014-2017
Presidency Paper: Towards a new Work Plan in the field of sport