Assosport, the Italian sporting goods industry association, represents Italy within EMoCS (European Meetings for Company Sport), a European project to raise awareness of the importance of physical activity, especially in the workplace. The project is led by the European Federation for Company Sport (EFCS) with European partners from Italy, France, Belgium, Finland, Spain and Slovenia, and is sponsored by the European Commission in the framework of Erasmus+.

At their first meeting, which was held in Paris on Sept. 27, 2018, EMoCS partners committed to set up a taskforce with all the relevant stakeholders to start working on the creation of a unique “European Label for Active Workplaces.” The label is meant to incentivize companies that are not active enough and to reward good practices. The final proposal for the label, including criteria and specification, is expected to be presented by Dec. 31, 2019.

The project is supported by Fesi, the European sporting goods industry federation of which Assosport is a member. It is calling for national and European institutions, from schools to companies, to expand their promotion of sports participation, in concert with their employees and decision-makers.

According to data from the latest Eurobarometer on Sport and Physical Activity, which was released by the European Commission in March 2018, only 4 percent of the Italian working population engages in sport or other physical activity at work, well below the European average, which is already low. In Italy, working population accounts for around 40 percent of the total population. At the European level, where the working population represents 54 percent of the total, active citizens who engage in physical activity in the workplace are 13 percent of the total.

According to the president of Assosport, Federico De Ponti, encouraging people to engage in physical activity at work is extremely important, considering that people spend most of their time at school and at the workplace. These are the places where opportunities for physical activity should be created, said De Ponti, who also added that an active workplace is good not just for the employees but also for companies themselves, which can benefit from increased productivity while becoming more attractive.

The data in the latest Eurobarometer are not encouraging in general, as they show that Europeans are becoming more and more sedentary. Nearly half of European citizens (46 percent) never exercise or play a sport, and the proportion has constantly been on the rise over the last few years. The previous Eurobarometer (2013) showed a proportion of European citizens who never exercised or played sport of 42 percent.

The next EMoCS meeting is scheduled to take place in Brussels in June. The meeting will primarily focus on the definition of the standards and criteria for the creation of the European Label for Active Workplaces.