Sport touches the hearts and minds of millions of Europeans, it is one of our great uniting forces and I firmly believe that it can bring the European Union closer to and make it more relevant to its citizens. Sport is something I am truly passionate about and committed to, and I am excited about the ever increasing opportunities and possibilities for sport and sportspeople on a European level.

Sport became an EU competence under the Lisbon treaty, allowing it to serve as a vehicle to promote co-operation between bodies responsible for sports, and help to protect the physical and moral integrity of sportsmen and women, especially younger sportsmen and sportswomen.

In my work as a member of the European Parliament´s Intergroup for Sports, I focus on how we can encourage greater participation in sport especially among young people. I would like to see this focusing on supporting the grassroots, the heart and soul of sport, in their promotional role.

In December 2010, I along with 4 other MEPs across national and party lines, were successful in passing a Written Declaration on Support for Grassroots Sport, which set an ambitious target of 100 million Europeans more active, more often by 2020. Currently, 200 million out of Europe's 500 million citizens are physically active on a weekly basis, so we need to promote policies to increase sport and physical activity by 100 million extra citizens by 2020.

I am also promoting the development of an 'Erasmus for Sportspeople' programme. It could allow young sportspeople across all sports to travel abroad to train and educate themselves in best practices in other member states. There could also be twinning arrangements between different clubs in different member states. We have a lot to learn from each other, and EU support in this area could provide an impetus for exchanging best practices.

In short, I want to see sport at the local level and citizens benefit from the EU's sporting competence.

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