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03 March 2011 / EN

2011 – The European Year of Volunteering Cities and Regions promoting sport and active citizenship for social cohesion in Europe

Declaration of the European People's Party Group in the Committee of the Regions

The European People’s Party Group in the Committee of the Regions

  1. welcomes the dedication of the European Year of Volunteering 2011 and recalls the importance of encouraging and supporting all forms of voluntary activity as one of the main tools to achieve effective social cohesion in the European Union, and the role played by regional and local authorities in facilitating active citizenship;
  2. underlines the commitment of the Hungarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union in encouraging voluntary activities, with particular regard to the social inclusion of young people, attaching in particular great importance to the European Youth Pact, which aims to facilitate a more youthful contribution in political and social life;
  3. recalls that volunteering represents first and foremost a social and political value based on the EPP key-building block principles of solidarity and responsibility emphasized by the EPP Charter of Values. Stresses that volunteering in any sector plays an important societal role in the lives of many citizens with an effective potential to strengthen social inclusion, cohesion and community development;
  4. underlines the role of volunteering with particular regard to sport voluntary activities in promoting smart, sustainable and inclusive growth according to the Europe 2020 Strategy and invites regional and local authorities to recognise the sport sector’s potential to contribute to the EU’s long-term strategic goals; and in this respect underlines the importance of volunteering in the sport sector for the success of the flagship initiative, European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion;
  5. stresses that voluntary sport activities have to promote the solidarity principle and thus must not be confused with the mostly highly paid professional sport activities;
  6. highlights the importance to promote and support the constant exchange of best practices in voluntary management amongst regions and cities involved in voluntary activities; also recommends that regional and local authorities should develop shared strategic lines across Member States to support volunteering in their territories;
  7. encourages the private sector to sustain initiatives promoting volunteering and invites them and regional and local authorities to strengthen public-private partnership forms of cooperation in order to encourage funding tools as a means of facing local social problems; also recalls that the voluntary sector contributes dynamically to the gross domestic product of Member States, to be mainly addressed for social cohesion purposes;
  8. calls on regional and local authorities to promote volunteering through education at all levels, creating opportunities for voluntary activity in education systems as well as to encourage links between the voluntary sector and education sector at all levels and to recognise volunteering as part of life long learning process;
  9. calls on regional and local authorities to promote measures to help voluntary organisations access sustainable funding in order to support their projects to therefore succeed in their objectives whilst avoiding the burden of excessive red-tape and maintaining control on the spending of public money;
  10. calls on relevant local and regional media, as well as stakeholders and public services to provide information to citizens about the initiatives linked to the European Year of Volunteering (EYV), with particular consideration to the work carried out by the EYV 2011 Alliance;
  11. recognises sport as an effective tool to promote the inclusion of people suffering from physical and mental handicaps into society, as well as immigrants; stresses that people suffering from discrimination or originating from disadvantaged or different cultural backgrounds – for instance the Roma people – need to be encouraged to engage in such activities in order to promote a culture of mutual comprehension and social cohesion;
  12. encourages those Member States and their regions and cities which have not yet done so to use sport as a tool and indicator in their social policies;
  13. strongly encourages regional and local authorities to ensure a constant practice of sport through education and proposes that every school should foresee daily one hour of sport activities;
  14. recalls the role of regional and local authorities in promoting and financing public investments related to the improvement of sport infrastructures and devices, and their accessibility and employability for all the citizens, without any sort of discrimination due to architectural features that deny access to physically disadvantaged people;
  15. welcomes that the European dimension of sport has been strengthened through the Lisbon Treaty, and expresses the wish of local and regional authorities to contribute to enhancing the societal role in sport, its economic dimension, and the organisation of sport in line with the recent proposals from the European Commission; in this context particularly welcomes the idea to fully exploit sport‑related aspects of the Structural Funds, and the support given to the European Cities for Volunteering in Sport project in 2011 which will build on the experience of towns and cities in supporting volunteering to identify and disseminate best practices;
  16. Proposes launching European initiatives to support sport such as dedicating a European Year to Sport, creating a European Capital of sport initiative, holding European decentralised sports festivals, and launching a sports Erasmus programme.