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:

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:

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:

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:


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