Sport has the power to promote universal values, such as social cohesion, tolerance, and peacekeeping. At the same time, sport is an extraordinarily powerful tool to promote education, health and wellbeing, as well as growth for new generations.
It is on these premises that in 2009 the Lisbon Treaty introduced the word 'sport' for the first time in the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union, by recognising the "specific nature of sport". This represents a landmark in the history of sport, which stemmed from the political will expressed by the European Parliament, in its Resolutions on 13 June 1997 and 13 February 1998.This was followed by the Conclusions of the European Council on 12 December 2008. In the face of the growing interest for sport policies by European institutions and Member States, political debate on sport needs to regain momentum.
In this respect, it is very significant that, for the first time this year, the European Commission has formally assigned a specific mandate on sport within a Commissioner's portfolio, Tibor Navracsics. This indicates that the European Commission, which took office on November 1st, can look forward to the next 5 years as an opportunity to elaborate on the "specific nature of sport". Guaranteeing that said specific nature finds formal acknowledgement in the European law system means guaranteeing that sport can keep contributing to the European policymaking process for social cohesion, economic development and education and, ultimately, to the economic growth of Europe.
The conference of 11th December 2014, organised by the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI), in collaboration with the Presidency of the Council of Ministers - Department for Regional Affairs, Autonomies and Sport, and co-financed by the European Commission, within the Italian Semester of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, therefore aims to offer a debating platform on the specific nature of sport, with specific reference to the training of young athletes.
Investing in the promotion of sport among young people, with particular reference to home-grown players, is paramount to trigger that virtuous circle that links together professional sport and grassroots sport. It is in the permanent equilibrium between educational values and sporting achievements and between the educational and competitive dimension, that the specific nature of sport is fostered as social infrastructure. This is the reason why the event organised on 11th December intends to focus on this topic, by providing a platform for discussion.