Education, Youth and Culture Council
Ministers settle for limited number of sports priorities
By Dafydd ab Iago | Tuesday 11 May 2010
Ministers meeting at the Education, Youth and Culture Council in Brussels, on 10 and 11 May, designated Riga in Latvia and Umea in Sweden as European Capitals of Culture 2014. The diplomatic decision was expected. Ministers also discussed, for the first time, sports policy in a formal Council setting. The Lisbon Treaty has created a specific EU competence for “cooperation” on sport issues.
Despite welcoming the changes brought about by the Lisbon Treaty, ministers want only a limited number of priorities in any possible EU financial programme supporting sports activities for the years 2012 to 2013. EU action needs to have clear added value to national plans, respecting the subsidiarity principle and the specific nature of sport, ministers concluded.
They also suggested several areas for possible EU action: 1. social and educational functions of sport; 2. sport structures, in particular those based on voluntary activity; 3. fairness and openness in sport, including the fight against racism, discrimination and violence; 4. physical and moral integrity of sportspeople (anti-doping and protection of minors); and 5. dialogue and close cooperation with the sport movement.
“First of all, we have to promote the social and education functions of sport addressing health enhancing physical activity,” said Androulla Vassiliou, the commissioner responsible for education, culture, multilingualism and youth. She also saw all-round support from ministers for this standpoint. Meanwhile, Jaime Lissavetzky, Spanish secretary of state for sport, concentrated on doping.
EUROPEAN HERITAGE LABEL
Another item on the agenda was the European Heritage Label with the Presidency reporting to the Council. The label, a voluntary intergovernmental initiative, in which 17 EU member states and Switzerland participate, is being transformed into a Community action. The Council and Parliament are set to consider the Commission’s March 2010 draft decision to this effect.
The Council went on to examine progress by member states in setting national targets to reduce the number of early school leavers as well as the target to increase the proportion of young people in tertiary education. These targets are to be adopted by the European Council, on 17 June (see
Ministers also rubber-stamped conclusions on the role of education and training in enhancing social cohesion, social mobility and the fight against poverty and social exclusion. Additionally, the Council agreed on conclusions calling on the Commission to develop an EU international higher education strategy. The goal is to improve coherence between existing initiatives at EU and national level (
The Council held an exchange of views on the contribution of cultural and creative industries, following the Commission’s recent green paper (3967 and 3950). Ministers repeated the importance of creativity and cultural industries being fully incorporated into the ‘Europe 2020’ strategy. They concluded that a favourable environment for SMEs and a reduction of bureaucracy as well as adequate protection of intellectual property rights are needed to help the culture sector fulfil its economic potential. As for EU money, ministers tentatively note that Cohesion Policy instruments could support cultural and creative industries. The ministers thus urge a “better use of existing instruments, for instance Structural Funds or the Media programme”.
In front of ministers, Commissioner Vassiliou expanded on the youth dimension of the ‘Europe 2020’ strategy. She is proposing a new initiative entitled ‘Youth on the move’. If all goes well, it should be launched in July and aims to improve “learning mobility, employability and the social integration of young people”.
Other items included conclusions on the contribution of culture to regional and local development.