Sport, leisure and European Union regional policy
The European Commission devoted 25 per cent of the European Union’s budget (153.038 billion ECU for the period 1994-9) to addressing the disparities between the prosperous regions of the Union and those on the economic periphery. Funds supporting EU Cohesion policies are administered through the European Structural Funds, primarily the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF). Grant aid is given to rural and urban communities seeking to come to terms with the loss of traditional industries and needing to retrain the local workforce for the demands of new industries. This chapter focuses on the use of regional development funds in sport and leisure for the purposes of social and economic regeneration. Sport, leisure and tourism are increasingly elements in strategies for local economic restructuring, however, their place in European level regional development programmes (Single Programming Documents) is becoming more evident. The chapter outlines the principles of EU regional policies and seeks to demonstrate, the ways in which leisure, and in particular sports-related projects, have become incorporated into European regional programmes in the UK. Merseyside, an Objective 1 area, is used as a case study region.