Report from the fifth meeting of the Expert Group on Integrity

The fifth meeting of the European Commission (EC) Expert Group on Integrity took place on 12–13 November 2019 in Sofia, Bulgaria. ENGSO was represented by ENGSO EU Advisory Committee member Mikkel Larsen, Senior Policy Advisor at the NOC and Sport Confederation of Denmark, the Danish ENGSO member.

On the first day, Mr Yves Le Lostecque, Head of the Sport Unit at the EC held a presentation on various topics, including the European Week of Sport 2019, the Erasmus+ calls for 2019 & 2020, other calls and future events. Regarding the Erasmus+ calls for 2019, Mr. Le Lostecque said that there was an increase in applications (766) and 260 of those have been selected for funding. He emphasised that the Commission is particularly satisfied with the number of applications (333) for small collaborative partnerships. However, he pointed out that large EU countries such as Germany and France still didn’t have many applications and thereby didn’t benefit from the calls greatly. Regarding the 2020 call, the deadline has already been announced as 2 April. In 2020, sport will have its highest budget ever with a €10 million increase to make it nearly €70 million.

Mr Le Lostecque explained that €6,4 million was set aside for preparatory actions and pilot projects and will be available in three areas 1) sport as a tool for social integration of refugees; 2) exchange and mobility on sport; and 3) monitoring and coaching through sport of youngsters at risk of radicalisation.

At the end of his presentation, Mr Le Lostecque announced a couple of future events:

- Cluster meeting on the role of sport in education (4-5 December 2019 in Brussels)

- Seminar on the specificity of sport (17 December 2019 in Brussels)

- Sport Infoday (30 January 2020 in Brussels)

- EU Sport Forum (26–27 March 2020 in Zagreb)

This update was followed by a session focusing on match-fixing. The Commission gave a short introduction and expressed the view that all had been done to prepare for the EU Council to ratify the Macolin Convention but unanimity still hasn’t been achieved in the EU Council.

This short update was followed by a presentation by the Council of Europe (CoE) which focused on four areas; the ratification of the Macolin Convention, the International Partnership against Corruption in Sport (IPACS), the Kazan Action Plan and finally human rights. The CoE was happy that the Macolin Convention has entered into force on 1 October 2019. So far, it has been ratified by Italy, Norway, Portugal, Moldova, Switzerland and Ukraine. The first meeting of the follow-up committee will be held in May or June 2020. The CoE expressed a hope that more countries would have ratified the Convention by then. Also, it was stressed that the implementation of the Convention in the EU countries is much more advanced than the number of countries ratifying it suggests.

The CoE also gave a short introduction to the IPACS and its three taskforces, namely “Public Procurement”, “Transparency” and “Benchmark on Good Governance”.

Regarding the “Benchmarking on Good Governance” taskforce, it was announced that there has been an agreement on the need to create a harmonised set of standards. The taskforce, therefore, decided to base this on the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) framework. This means that both international federations and national federations will be invited to follow the same requirements.

Day two focused on Erasmus+ and how to make a better use of this programme. This session was initiated by Luciano Di Fonzo, Head of section for Erasmus+ at the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) of the EC. He went through the historical development since the inception of the Sport Chapter in 2013 and the different parts of the Erasmus+ Programme: collaborative partnerships (the main action); small collaborative partnerships (a highly successful element); and not-for-profit European sports events (that is limited to 10% of the budget). Mr Di Fonzo also gave an overview of the differences in applications for different topics. For instance, the topic of social inclusion is very competitive while only 6-7 applications were received on the topic of match-fixing.

Later on, three presentations were held on Erasmus+ funded projects on integrity. The first one was the European Rookie Cup presented by Mr Axel Brammer, the second was the National Sports Governance Observer by Mr Jens Sejr, while the third one was Good Governance in Sport by Ms Stefka Djobova.

Mikkel Larsen had very positive feelings about the meeting: “It is a joy to have so many experts in the field all in the same room, and all striving towards the same goal. While the integrity of sport is a difficult and complex issue, the group has been able to hone in on the areas which would make the most amount of difference, while still respecting the call of the sport sector to not over-bureaucratise this area and still respecting its autonomy.”

Ms Paola Ottonello and Mr Yves Le Lostecque from the EC with Mr Mikkel Larsen
Ms Paola Ottonello and Mr Yves Le Lostecque from the EC with Mr Mikkel Larsen