In the last two years, Britain has benefitted from £1.5m of ERASMUS+ funding – will it dry up if we leave the EU?
Since prime minister David Cameron fired the starting gun on the EU referendum debate by announcing that Britain would be going to the polls on the 23 June 2016, individuals in favour the status quo and those preferring ‘Brexit’ have generally centred their arguments around the economy, jobs, national security and immigration.
But the result of the referendum could have further reaching implications than the headline issues. Sport – and the funding of grassroots sport in particular – has the potential to be affected if Britain decides to leave Europe.
Talking to Sports Management, Sport and Recreation Alliance chief executive Emma Boggis said that the UK would find it “much more difficult to access EU funding streams designed to support sport”, highlighting the ERASMUS+ programme and the EU Structural Funds.
According to executive director of Britain Stronger In Europe, Will Straw, Britain has benefitted from £1.5m (US$2.1m, €1.9m) of ERASMUS+ sports funding in the past two years. Indeed, the current programme period for ERASMUS+ funding – 2014-2020 – has a total budget of €270m (£210.3m, US$293.1m) for all member nations.
“Thanks to the ERASMUS+ programme, anyone in Britain who comes up with a brilliant sports project can receive money from the EU to help get it off the ground,” added Straw.
However, while all ERASMUS+ programme is open to all 28 states in the EU, five non-members are eligible to bid for funding – Macedonia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Turkey – meaning that if Britain does divorce itself from the Common Market it does not necessarily lose the opportunity to bid for EU grassroots funding.
“Non-EU countries like Iceland and Norway take part in the ERASMUS+ programme. To suggest that we would be denied access to this after we Vote Leave is scaremongering,” said a Vote Leave spokesperson, who told Sports Management that if Britain left the EU some of the “£350m (US$487.7m, €449.2m) it sends to Brussels each week” would be ploughed into “our priorities such as grassroots sport”.