In view of the adoption of the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2021-2027, the EOC EU Office has carried out intense work with MEPs over the last months; some of which has already yielded positive results. On 16 January, the European Parliament adopted its position on the new European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) and the European territorial cooperation goal (Interreg) programmes, both of which now include sport-related amendments.
The European Social Fund is the EU programme aimed at investing in citizens. It promotes social inclusion, job opportunities, education, skills and the employability of young people, contributes to fighting poverty, and contributes to better living conditions, health and fairer societies. It is well known that sport can contribute to the achievement of most of the objectives listed above. For this reason, the EOC EU Office has focused its work on the areas of employment, skills and education, social inclusion and health. Out of a total of 4 amendments proposed by the EOC EU Office, the European Parliament took on board 3, namely:
· A new recital on supporting actions using sport and physical activity to drive social inclusion, fight youth unemployment, and improve health promotion and disease prevention;
· Two proposals falling under the health strand, especially regarding health promotion and disease prevention.
Interreg is one of the instruments of the EU to support cooperation across borders through project funding. It seeks to jointly tackle challenges in areas including health, environment, research, education, transport, and sustainable energy. Interreg has three types of programmes: Cross-border cooperation programmes; Transnational cooperation programmes; and Interregional programmes. The EOC EU Office has given full support to the sport-related amendment proposed by the European Committee of the Regions which falls under the cross-border cooperation programmes, people-to-people and small-scale projects.
Although these two legislative texts are not a definitive legislation yet — they still have to go through trilogue negotiations among the Council of the EU, the Parliament and the Commission — the fact that the Parliament has adopted sport amendments in its position on both ESF+ and Interreg programmes is already an important step. If such amendments are agreed in the trilogue, sport projects will be eligible for funding under ESF+ and Interreg programmes.