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Building on the achievements of the European Year of Education through Sport 2004

This Communication presents the main achievements of the European Year of Education through Sport 2004 (EYES 2004) and proposals for further action on education through sport. It spreads the message that, in our multicultural societies, sport can and must become a tool to be used in formal and non-formal learning.


Commission Communication of 22 December 2005: "EU action in the field of Education through Sport: building on EYES 2004 achievements" [COM(2005)680 final - Not published in the Official Journal].


EYES 2004 was launched to increase awareness on the potential of sport as a tool for education and social inclusion. The wider aim of this initiative was to promote education through sport in formal and non-formal education.

Objectives and outputs

Specific objectives included promoting voluntary activities, pupil mobility and exchanges through sport activities, social inclusion of disadvantaged groups and the creation of a better balance between intellectual and physical activity in school life. The main results are:

  • involvement of the 25 Member States and the 3 EFTA/EEA countries: Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway;
  • 167 projects co-financed, out of 1643 applications;
  • 66 projects in the field of formal education;
  • 60 projects using the values of sport in activities for young people;
  • 30 ceremonies (opening and closing of EYES);
  • representation at 12 international events such as Euro 2004 and the Olympic and Paralympic Games;
  • 2 Eurobarometer surveys.

Cooperation with the participating countries was channelled through the Advisory Committee in which most of them were represented by delegates from Education and Sport departments. This has become the first stable European network of public authorities responsible for education and sport.

During EYES 2004, the Commission cooperated with the Council of Europe, notably by co-financing a project in the field of education on democratic citizenship in Europe. As part of the preparations for the International Year for Sport and Physical Education in 2005, a fruitful dialogue was established with UNESCO with a view to continuing activities in 2005.

Impact assessment

The initiative has created and built up lasting networks and often new partnerships between education and sport. EYES 2004 provided numerous examples of good practices which go beyond its networking achievements.

Its main impacts have been:

  • a significant contribution to disseminating the educational values of sport;
  • the fostering and increasing recognition of activities in the field of education through sport;
  • a contribution to changing the attitudes of the European public in this area.

However, its effects seem to have been more limited in other ways, for example in promoting sport as a vehicle for social inclusion of disadvantaged groups, encouraging a better balance between intellectual and physical activity in school life, and highlighting the positive contribution made by voluntary work and student mobility.

Expectations in formal education

Formal education could take better advantage of the values conveyed through sport to develop knowledge, motivation, skills, readiness for personal effort and social abilities. This makes sport essential in formal education for acquiring and developing key skills needed by everyone for personal fulfilment, social inclusion and employability.

On the other hand, formal education has a crucial role to play in encouraging habits leading to regular physical activity and in countering unhealthy lifestyle habits.

The expectations surrounding EYES 2004 led to the following ideas:

  • using national expertise to develop a better understanding and increased knowledge at EU level of the place of sport and physical activity in school life;
  • raising awareness of the mutual benefits for educational institutions and sport organisations;
  • improving recognition of the qualifications of those who teach sport-related professions (e.g. trainers and sports managers);
  • taking advantage of the potential of sport and physical activity in formal education to reverse current trends towards a sedentary and passive lifestyle;
  • making full use of the results of EYES 2004 by capitalising on the good practices developed and taking better advantage of the possibilities for financing projects and initiatives based on sporting activities.

Expectations in non-formal learning

EYES has proven that there was a demand in European civil society for sport to be used in non-formal learning and as a tool for promoting social integration, developing intercultural dialogue and combating discrimination, particularly racism and xenophobia.

Taking part in sport is educational not only in its own right but also by virtue of active participation in sport clubs and organisations, which helps to reinforce civil society through teaching practical democratic values.

Follow-up by the European Commission

The Commission, within the limits of its competence and in full respect of the principle of subsidiarity and the autonomy of educational institutions and sport organisations, will ensure a follow-up to EYES 2004, in particular along the following lines:

  • carrying out new studies, organising further expert meetings and launching new surveys;
  • continuing to organise meetings with the public authorities responsible for education and sport and expanding them to stakeholders in both areas;
  • intensifying dialogue and cooperation with the Sport Movement on the educational and social functions of the sport (e.g. volunteering, participation in sport notably for women, fight against racism and xenophobia, education and protection of young athletes, etc.);
  • taking advantage of the possibilities to finance projects and initiatives on sporting activities in the framework of EU actions (e.g. future European Years, the new EU programme on "Integrated Life Long Learning", "Youth in Action" and "Citizens for Europe");
  • improving recognition of the qualifications in sport-related professions and facilitating mobility;
  • raising awareness of the importance of physical activity in reversing the trend towards obesity.


In Declaration 29 attached to the Amsterdam Treaty, the Nice European Council recognised that sport forges people's identity. In the Nice declaration, the European Council underlined that, "even though [it does not have] any direct powers in this area, the Community must, in its action under the various Treaty provisions, take account of the social, educational and cultural functions inherent in sport."

The Council, in its Resolution of 17 December 1999 on the non-formal education dimension of sporting activities in the European Community YOUTH programme, called upon the Commission, in cooperation with the Member States, to devise a coherent approach in order to exploit the educational potential of sport, considering that sporting activities can have a pedagogical value which contributes to strengthening civil society.

This Communication is the response to the request from the European Parliament and the Council for the Commission to report on the measures taken during the European Year of Education through Sport 2004 (EYES 2004).


Decision No 291/2003/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 February 2003 establishing the European Year of Education through Sport 2004 [Official Journal L 43 of 18.02.2003].

Last updated: 08.11.2006