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Sport growth engine for EU economy

23 June 2014

The European Commission (EC) has called sport a growth engine for the EU economy.

Sport is an important economic sector in the EU in its own right and its share is expected to rise in the future. Overall the sports sector accounts for 2% of the EU global GDP, while the total employment generated by sports activities is 7.3 million-equivalent to 3.5% of the total EU employment. Despite these impressive figures, the economic impact of the sport-related industries is often underestimated.

To underpin the role of sport-related industry as an economic driver, a high level meeting of stakeholders on the impact of sport and sport-related industries took place in Brussels. An industry-led Action Plan on the economic impact of sport and sport-related industries came out of the European Sport Industries meeting and highlighted the role of sport as a powerful lever for innovation, industrial competitiveness and employment.

Three main objectives have been outlined from the meeting - maximising efficiency of investment in sports infrastructure; fostering the competitiveness of sports-related industries; and enabling demand for sports and recreational activities and related goods and maximizing the spill-over effects of sports on growth and employment.

Maximising efficiency of investment in sports infrastructure
With limited public funding, improving efficiency of investment in sport infrastructure has become crucial.

To this end, a number of actions have been envisaged in this industry-led Action Plan, including: taking stock of existent infrastructures in all Member states, creating a forum bringing together policy makers and industry executives in order to share best practices, supporting sports clusters, facilitating the creation of public-private partnerships and raising awareness to sport community that sports projects can be included in ‘innovative public procurement’ under Horizon 2010.

Fostering the competitiveness of sports-related industries
A set of actions have been proposed, which include developing studies on the effectiveness and sustainability of sporting events in Europe, promoting synergies at EU level, encouraging Member states to take full benefit of the funding possibilities from European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Moreover, Member states should exchange best practices so as to have an effective and unified enforcement of IPR. The EU should also reinforce cluster collaboration across Member States, develop case studies about new trends and opportunities and consider sport-related industries' needs when negotiating bilateral FTAs. Finally, an EU ‘Mission for Growth’ focused on sports industries should be organised after every major sports event in third countries.

Enabling demand for sports and recreational activities and related goods and maximizing the spill-over effects of sports on growth and employment
Every new job in the sport supply chain generates 0.65 new jobs in related industries outside the supply chain. Sectors with the highest multipliers are found in the construction branch and in tourism-related sectors – actions outlined include exploiting COSME funding possibilities, supporting enterprises operating in the ‘app economy’, creating specific agencies at regional level to facilitate the organization of sporting events and adopt measures to facilitate sport-related tourism activities.

The EU together with Member states and other stakeholders shall also encourage tourism from third countries to Europe at the occasion of major sport events and, finally, consider whether to follow up the recommendations of the Expert Group on the sustainable financing on sports on reviews of the VAT system to take account the specific nature of sport.

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