On 16 March 2016, the High Level Group on Grassroots Sport, set up by Commissioner Tibor Navracsics, held its third meeting in Brussels. After having discussed social inclusion in and through sport, and health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA) during the previous meeting, two other topics covered by the group were on the agenda: informal learning and skills development as well as volunteering.
Before entering into these topics, a very fruitful discussion concerning methodological and technical aspects of the final report took place. Members of the group discussed notably the necessity to demonstrate that they have taken into account the work already done at the EU level by establishing recommendations not only on new elements by also on the implementation of previous documents and decisions.
Regarding the structure, members of the group agreed to put the focus on 5 or 6 main concise recommendations, completed within the report, by further arguments and sub-recommendations.
Niels Nygaard, President of the Danish NOC and co-chair of the group, chaired the discussion on informal learning and skills development. The European Commission gave a comprehensive introduction on the situation at the EU level notably via a presentation of its New Skills Agenda, which should be adopted by the end of May. The Commission aims to include, in its new agenda, provisions that could cover hidden skills and competencies notably physical and emotional skills.
In addition, a study focusing on these topics “Study on the Contribution of Sport to the Employability of Young People in the Context of the Europe 2020 Strategy” has been launched by the beginning of this year.
Thereafter, Marc Theeboom, Professor at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), opened an interesting debate with his presentation underlining the limit of scientific evidences supporting the developmental and societal potential of grassroots sport.
The afternoon session was dedicated to volunteering with a general introduction made by the European Commission on the different initiatives and actions taken at the EU level including the functioning of the European Voluntery Service (EVS).
Following this introduction, a tour de table allowed all members to expose the situation in their respective countries as well as the main elements that should, according to them, figure in the session of the final report dedicated to volunteering. This discussion illustrated the huge differences existing between Members States but provided also the opportunity to define common perspectives, including the promotion and sharing of good practices, the existence of financial tools that could encourage volunteering and the necessity to adapt volunteering offers according to the expectations of new generations.
The final report of the High Level Group should be presented to the Commissioner in June. The next meeting of the group will be hold on 8 April, in Brussels.