Europe is aging, Europeans becoming the oldest people in the worlds by 2030 due to improving life expectancy and decreasing fertility rates. The increase in life years is, however, not always matched by healthy life years, which would be avoidable through effective prevention policies, such as in the field of health enhancing physical activity.
Europe’s population is undergoing rapid change and Europeans expect the government to tackle the related challenges
(European Commission (2017): Reflection Paper on the Social Dimension of Europe COM(2017) 206, P. 14-21):
- Europe is aging, Europeans will become the oldest people in the world by 2030 due to improving life expectancy and decreasing fertility rates. The increase in life years is, however, not always matched by healthy life years, which could be avoidable through effective prevention policies, such as in the field of health enhancing physical activity.
- Our society is becoming more complex and diverse through migration, although migration to the EU remains relatively modest compared to other parts of the world. Globalisation has prompted anxieties about cultural diversity; at the same time new forms of solidarity are emerging, for example through leisure and cultural activities, such as sport.
Sport and all forms of physical activity have several positive effects on our society and economy as a whole:
- Sport, as all forms of physical activity, has several physiological, psychological and pedagogical effects on the individual. In a wider sense, sport contributes to the physical, psychological and mental health and wellbeing of the society in Europe. Healthy and sporting individuals can perform better in every aspect of their lives.
- From an economical perspective, physical activity reduces health care costs, increases productivity, and leads to a healthier and more social working environment, which affects individuals, businesses and nations. (WHO (2003). Health and Development Through Physical Activity and Sport, P.4)
- Common physical activity and cheering for an athlete or a team strengthen a sense of participation and belonging, which are the fundamentals of different values such as solidarity, social cohesion, equal opportunities, social inclusion and voluntarism.
- Sport helps to develop skills, knowledge and competences. Therefore, sport contributes to formal, non-formal and informal education.
You as policy-maker at European, national or local level have a great role to make sports organisations strive and fulfil their full potential in contributing to society.
With the ASPIRE project, we would like to raise your awareness that sport has an added value in promoting the inclusion of refugees. More than that, our project results intend to serve you in evidence-based policy-making.
Discover more about the project results and publications by clicking the respective button below. We would also like to draw your attention to the possibility of you expressing your support towards our project by editing and signing our informal and non-binding Letter of Support. Your support would be very much appreciated and rewarded with an invitation to our final conference.
Letter of support
Here is a list of the European policies the ASPIRE project addresses:
- The project addresses EU sport policy, namely on social inclusion in and through sport, as mentioned in the White Paper on sport (2007, Art 2.5.) and the Communication on sport (2011, Art 2.5.). The White Paper on sport highlights that “sport can also facilitate integration into society of migrants and persons of foreign origin as well as support inter-cultural dialogue”, while the Communication on sport states that “sport can also be a vehicle to promote social inclusion of minorities and other vulnerable or disadvantaged groups and contribute towards better understanding among communities, including in post-conflict regions.”
- In the Council Conclusions of 18 November 2010 on the role of sport as a source of and driver for active social inclusion (Art. 3-4.), based on the priority to “make better use of the potential of sport as a contribution to community building, social cohesion and inclusive growth” (Art. 4.2.), the Council of the European Union invites the Member States and the European Commission to “promote intercultural dialogue by including persons from different backgrounds into society through sport” (Art. 5.4.), and “promote and support mutual learning instruments, cross-disciplinary research aiming at an analytical evidence-based framework, and the exchange of knowledge and best practices” (Art. 5.10.). The project is a good example of how to implement these conclusions into practice.
- The ASPIRE project also addresses other fields, such as social affairs, inclusion, and justice, creating synergies among these. According to the Communication on a European Agenda for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals (Art. 1.4.), “social inclusion measures targeted at migrants should aim to remove possible barriers blocking effective access to social and health services, and fight against […] exclusion of the most vulnerable”.
- The European Parliament resolution of 10 September 2015 on migration and refugees in Europe (Art. 15.) “regrets that the leaders of some Member States and the far-right parties are using the current situation to fuel anti-migration sentiments while blaming the EU for the crisis, and that this is giving rise to growing numbers of violent actions against migrants; calls on the Commission and the Member States to take urgent steps against violent actions and hate speech targeting migrants; also calls on the leaders of the EU and the Member States to take a clear stance in favour of European solidarity and respect for human dignity”.
- The Committee on Employment and Social Affairs of the European Parliament “highlights the fact that in order to facilitate the social inclusion and integration of refugees into the labour market, it is necessary to address serious and multi-faceted issues such as discrimination, […] cultural backgrounds, health needs, including psychosocial and post-trauma support” in Article 5 of the Draft Report on refugees: social inclusion and integration into the labour market from 24 February 2016. Article 28 of the Draft Report also calls on the Commission and Member States to support civil society organisations, such as sports organisations, in their anti-discrimination work.
- Taking into consideration that the project uses sport as a tool to enhance the social inclusion of refugees, the project will contribute to intercultural learning, the respect of dignity and the values of solidarity, equal opportunities and human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, as laid down in the legislative acts above and the Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
- In the view of future demographic challenges the EU is facing, the project could feed the long-term priorities of the European Agenda on Migration, contributing to the development of a new policy by facilitating access to social services.
- The European Commission supports policies in the field of social inclusion and social protection; therefore from a wider perspective the project will support efforts to reach the target of the Europe 2020 strategy to lift people out of social exclusion.