Brussels, 29 November 2022
A meeting of the Sports Council chaired by Czech Minister of Education, Youth and Sports Vladimír Balaš took place in Brussels today. The ministers discussed opportunities in the field of sport in the light of the consequences of the pandemic, Russian aggression against Ukraine and increased energy prices. In addition, sports ministers adopted Council Conclusions on Sustainable and Accessible Sports Infrastructure.
At the beginning of the meeting, the ministers adopted the Council Conclusions on Sustainable and Accessible Sports Infrastructure. Their basic principle is to ensure that new and existing sports infrastructure is sustainable, energy-efficient and does not pollute the natural environment. The second is to ensure that sport infrastructure is accessible to everyone, everywhere, regardless of their social status or disability.
“I would like us to look to the future and reflect on how we have learnt from the current crises and how these challenges can shape our future policies and activities – this would strengthen the resilience of the sports sector. We should consider new forms of cooperation, immediate and structural reforms, or even consider the current crises as a new beginning that will lead to better support for the sports sector,” said Minister of Education, Youth and Sports Vladimír Balaš.
EU ministers then discussed whether the covid-19 pandemic, Russian aggression against Ukraine and high energy prices could be not merely a negative phenomenon but also an opportunity for the further development of sport. They discussed not only the importance of cooperation between the state and the sports movement in dealing with crises in sport, but also how we can learn from our experiences with the pandemic, Russian aggression and high energy costs to ensure that sport is available to all.
The Ministers present also agreed that sport, like other sectors, must adapt to the current situation, not only in the light of the covid-19 pandemic and Russian aggression against Ukraine, but also in the light of the green and digital transition. Supporting innovation in sport is therefore crucial. The promotion of values such as fair play and healthy lifestyles, which are closely linked to the sports movement, should also continue to be a priority.
Prior to the afternoon session, an informal lunch discussion was held at the invitation of Minister Vladimír Balaš, which focused on the lack of qualified PE teachers and other sports professionals in school education. The discussion revealed that the shortage of qualified professionals is a problem that is shared by most Member States across Europe. Promoting their participation in children’s education should be a priority in the future and contribute to improving the quality of sports education as well as the early identification of talent in sport.
Culture was discussed prior to sports
Prior to the sports part of the EYCS Council, a meeting of the Council for Culture chaired by the Czech Minister of Culture Martin Baxa took place. The main topics of the meeting were the approval of the EU Work Plan for Culture 2023-2026 and the presentation of a progress report on the new set of rules to protect media pluralism and independence in the EU – the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA).
The meeting also included a policy debate on aid to Ukraine. In particular, it was about the delivery of material assistance, which Ukraine had requested in advance in writing from Member States, both in securing Ukraine’s cultural heritage and in the context of repeated Russian attacks on critical Ukrainian infrastructure. The Ukrainian Minister of Culture Oleksandr Tkachenko also took part in the debate.