The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948. Article 24 (of 30) in the Declaration states, “Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.” Last week, Antonio Tajani, the European Union commissioner for enterprise and industry, announced a plan to make subsidized vacations a universal right as well.
“Travelling for tourism today is a right. The way we spend our holidays is a formidable indicator of our quality of life,” Mr. Tajani told a group of ministers at The European Tourism Stakeholders Conference in Madrid on April 15.
Details of the plan haven’t been finalized, but it’s set to begin as a pilot program before being fully launched in 2013. The EU may subsidize 30% of vacations for pensioners, seniors, young adults aged 18 to 25, and families facing some sort of hardship. The price tag is expected to be in the hundred millions.
Some are already pooh-poohing the plan – “In this economic climate, it’s astonishing that the EU wants to bribe people with cheap holidays,” said Mats Persson, of pro-reform think-tank Open Europe. But the idea is based on a Spanish program that reportedly helped Spain’s economy. The Spanish government subsidized holidays in the winter off-season for European residents aged 55 and over. Spain calculated that for every €1 it spent in subsidies, €1.6 was gained for its resorts.
For all the EU’s democratic grandiloquence — “Why should someone from the Mediterranean not be able to travel to Edinburgh in summer for a breath of cool, fresh air; why should someone from Edinburgh not be able to travel to Greece in winter?” — the plan really sounds more like a stimulus package than human rights policy.
[Image: European Commission]