Brussels has declared that tourism is a human right and pensioners, youths and those too poor to afford it should have their travel subsidised by the taxpayer.
Under the scheme, British pensioners could be given cut-price trips to Spain, while Greek teenagers could be taken around disused mills in Manchester to experience the cultural diversity of Europe.
The idea for the subsidised tours is the brainchild of Antonio Tajani, the European Union commissioner for enterprise and industry, who was appointed by Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister…
Tajani, who unveiled his plan last week at a ministerial conference in Madrid, believes the days when holidays were a luxury have gone. “Travelling for tourism today is a right. The way we spend our holidays is a formidable indicator of our quality of life,” he said.
Tajani, who used to be transport commissioner, said he had been able to “affirm the rights of passengers” in his previous office and the next step was to ensure people’s “right to be tourists”.
Tajani’s programme will be piloted until 2013 and then put into full operation. It will be open to pensioners and anyone over 65, young people between 18 and 25, families facing “difficult social, financial or personal” circumstances and disabled people. The disabled and the elderly can be accompanied by one person.
In the initial phase, northern Europeans will be encouraged to visit southern Europe and vice versa. Details of how participants are chosen have not yet been finalised, but it is expected the EU will subsidise about 30% of the cost. (source)
This seems wildly extravagant to me, and a definite abuse of the term “rights”. Now, regular readers of this blog know I’m not a rights-minimalist (on the contrary) and that I believe the body of human rights should be able to grow, evolve and capture new or neglected “wrongs” (see here). Also, I’m all in favor of the existing right to leisure (see article 24 of the Universal Declaration), but I see this right as a bulwark against labor exploitation, not as an invitation to government subsidized travel. I’m often described as a leftist (and I did write a not entirely negative book about communism) but I’m not insensitive to the big state argument.
More human rights nonsense.