By: Introduction Officially the European Confederation of Outdoor Employers (EC-OE) was established as a non-for-profit organisation on 30/08/2008. From day one it was clear that ‘the outdoors’ was used - as a concept - by many to describe activities such as canoeing, mountain bike, sailing, survival, hiking, skiing, etc., etc. On the other hand it was hardly understoodthat these kind of activities were organised by many thousands of very small businesses and consequently provide for an income for even more thousands of people throughout the EU. Simultaneously, through a multitude of contacts the EC-OE felt the need to define more precisely the field of action they were involved with. The latter is what this article is all about: defining the outdoors. The firstpart of this article will focus on ‘identifying’ the outdoors within a European context. The second part will then focus on ‘defining’ the outdoors. And finally, the third part of this article will be devoted to ‘positioning’ EC-OE and ‘the outdoors’ within the overall ‘Sport & Active Leisure’ scene. Dr. Herman Smulders President of the EC-OE
Identification of ‘Sport’, ‘ActiveLeisure’ & the ‘Outdoors’ The European context: European umbrella organisations
In the 1990’s begin 2000, European umbrella organisations focusing on ‘specific’ or even ‘general’ sports related issues, became a new phenomenon. Obviously many – mostly scientific – international organisations already existed in the ‘sports arena’ (e.g. on the history of sport and physical education, sports psychology,sociology of sport, sports geography, etc. etc.,). On the other hand, international sports federations, the IOC and even organisations such as the sport for all federation (FISPT) 1, the International lifesaving federation (ILSF) 2 etc., etc. are also operational for many years. The ‘new phenomenon’ we are referring to in this article are umbrella organisations with a specific European (political)mission and mostly relying on European sponsorship generated through European project funds such as ‘Leonardo da Vinci’ (vocational education and training), ‘Grundvig’ (adult education), Comenius (schools),‘Erasmus’ (higher education)…
Organisations such as ENSSEE (1989) 3, ENGSO (1995) 4, EOSE (2002) 5, EASE (2003) 6, have all been set up to study and /or promote specific aspects related to the sports sector within the European community. From 2004 onwards the focus of many umbrella federations partly shifted under the impulse of the Maastricht treaty (Maastricht, 2004). At this conference the European Council and the European Commission decided on creating the European Qualification Network (EQF). “ The EQF is a common European referencesystem which will link different countries’ national qualifications systems and frameworks together. In practice, it will function as a translation device making qualifications more readable. This will help learners and workers wishing to move between countries or change jobs or move between educational institutions at home.“ 7 Key concepts in the context of the EQF are : comparability ofqualifications, mobility of workers and lifelong learning. Evolving from the introduction of the EQF, a number of European organisations in 2005 decided to join forces to coordinate their contribution to the further development of the EQF. To achieve this goal the European Sport Workforce Development Alliance (ESWDA) - later to become the ‘Alliance’ was created. In fact the ‘Alliance’ is an informalpartnership of European stakeholders involved in the sports sector. Other European organisations active in the sport and active leisure sector can at all times apply for membership. EOSE acts as the facilitator of the Alliance.
‘Active Leisure’ employer federations
Probably the oldest Employer federations in Europe are the ‘Beroepsfederatie van Natuursportondernemingen’ (BFNO) in Belgium...