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Maria Badia i Cutchet : “Sport can help forge a common identity”

In partnership with the think tank Sport and Citizneship, regularly publishes an interview from their quarterly journal. This month we are bringing you an interview with Maria Badia i Cutchet, a socialist Spanish MEP and member of the Culture and Education Committee in which she outlines her expectations for the forthcoming Commission policy document on legislation in the area of sport, a new competence introduced by the Lisbon Treaty.Â

What were the objectives of the public hearing on the future of European sport policy held at the European Parliament the 18th of November ?

MBiC : The Lisbon Treaty has provided the EU with the power to legislate in the area of sport and there is a project to develop a European policy on this field. In this context the Culture and Education Committee of the European Parliament held a public hearing with representatives of sport federations, the European Olympic Committee, civil society and universities to examine how the EU should engage in sport and in which areas.

This think tank founded in 2007 focusses on the role of sport in European societies. It publishes a quarterly review on issues related to sport and citizenship.
The meeting with experts, attended by Members of Parliament and the Commission was an opportunity to hear the different viewpoints and interests - from sports elite, professionals and citizens - as well as to highlight the implications within the new legal framework. We need to consolidate a policy promoting sports to improve our quality of life and achieve a balance between elite sport and sports activities practiced by millions of Europeans.

The European Commission is preparing its Communication on sport for the end of the year. What are your expectations ?

MBiC : The Communication will be highly welcome by all the Members in the culture and education committee in the European Parliament. Since the introduction of sport as a competence in the Lisbon Treaty, we have been waiting for this document, as it will be the main and fundamental legal basis for all the policies we can make at European level in the field of sports. We expect the text to include all the priorities we have expressed : sport as a tool of participation and integration, fight against doping and fraud, promotion of health values, introduction of sports in education… Obviously the Communication can not deal with all the issues linked to sport and future legislation, but as the first policy document it is important that it would include the main priorities.

You participated to the conference on “Sport and European Citizenship” organized by Sport and Citizenship in November. In your opinion, could sport help to build European citizenship ?

MBiC : Indeed, sport can be a powerful tool to strengthen cohesion in European societies. It is commonly accepted that sport is fun but it that it also unifies and breaks down barriers between people. And that is why sport is important, because people from different cultures play together in clubs or in recreational teams, regardless of whether it is competitive, or “just for fun” . The social impact of sport, in intercultural dialogue, in social cohesion, in fight against exclusion and discrimination, can be very high, and we cannot miss the opportunity of making a good use of it. Those are the basic elements of the European project, so it definitely can help forge a common identity.

The European Year of Volunteering should be a great opportunity to address certain issues and to take some steps forward on these themes. However the European Parliament is waiting to see what the priorities addressed by the Commission will be on this subject.

Further information :

Maria Badia i Cutchet - European Parliament

Sport et citoyenneté - Brussels based think tank

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