European Union

All Work And No Play Makes EU Commissioners Go Crazy, Or: Subsidized Vacation As a Fundamental Human Right


A human right to star in your very own Chevy Chase movie.

In the wacky, long-running, and possibly-doomed gameshow that is the European welfare state, everyone in the EU just moved one step closer toward winning a free vacation:

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.

The scheme, which could cost hundreds of millions of pounds a year, is intended to promote a sense of pride in European culture, bridge the north-south divide in the continent and prop up resorts in their off-season. (Link via Greg Mankiw)

European pride has always struck me as vaguely Shakespearean, though mostly in the sense of Troilus and Cressida: "He that is proud eats up himself. Pride is his own glass, his own trumpet, his own chronicle; and whatever praises itself but in the deed, devours the deed in the praise." And, as with that play, it's tough to tell whether to call this story a tragedy or a comedy:

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".

So everyone has a right to a publicly-funded Amsterdam bender? If only. Promoting "a sense of pride in the European culture" on the taxpayer's tab means your ideal destination has to be edjumucational:

Officials have envisaged sending south Europeans to Manchester and Liverpool on a tour of "archeological and industrial sites" such as closed factories and power plants.

Fun! That is, if by "fun!" you mean "so boring it might cause instant brain death." If it were up to me, I think I'd opt for a staycation.

On the other hand, maybe Tajani can ditch the Eurocentrism and work out a deal to send everyone to America—in particular, to sunny Washington, D.C., where council member Michael Brown recently declared that the city deserves an additional $10 million in tourist taxes.

D.C. deserves it. EU residents are entitled to it. Is it too much to ask for a little statist synergy?


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  1. This is from the Onion, right?

    1. You betcha!

  2. I was all excited about my upcoming free trip to a villa in Tuscany when I realized that they’re not talking about me or about sending me somewhere nice.

    1. When we get the North American Union together, you can have a wonderful trip to Tuktoyaktuk.

      You could visit the famous University of Tuktoyaktuk. (aka ‘TUK U’)

      (I think I’ll skip the reciprocal trip to Detroit, however.)

      1. Screw that, I’m holding out for a vacation to sunny Nunavut. Lots of beachfront to choose from!

  3. So basically the Reason editors cull the morning links for ideas. How nice.

  4. Usually, crazy shit like this starts in California…

  5. If Germany were smart it would subsidize MY vacation there. I’m willing to travel off-peak and I guarantee whatever I save on airfare/lodging I’ll make up for in beer consumption!

    1. I was thinking similar things about my Italian journey.

  6. For REAL cultural diversity, Manchester teens should come to America and visit the famous theme park “Suburbo-world” (formerly known as “Jen’s place”). For only $50 — a steal considering the dollar-to-pound exchange rate — tourists can enjoy such authentic American experiences as basking in central heating and drinking refrigerated beer. Everyone will get to make their very own hand-puppet from the laundry room’s famous “Orphaned Sockpile” (the largest such pile in all of central Connecticut!) and, after visiting the prostitutes behind Ye Olde Abandonede Strip Mall, will learn why “spotted dick” might be pleasant in Britain, but is really best avoided in America.

    1. I’m not sure why, but this reminds me of an earlier post today (liberated from Boing Boing) about a guy running a strip club in his basement.

      1. Anyone who would read something I wrote* and think about strip clubs is clearly a misogynist, ProLib. Shame on you.
        *Unless it’s one of the things I wrote about working strip clubs in college, but this comment here CLEARLY does not fall into that category. So shame on you.

        1. Actually, it was inspired by two things: The recollection of your work experience and the idea of an entertainment experience in a home.

          That, or I’m a misogynist.

          1. Misogyny. Absolutely. No doubt.

  7. a sense of pride in European culture

    Is the word for that “stolzenreich” or “Reichestolz?” I ate my babelfish.

  8. is intended to promote a sense of pride in European culture

    Uhh, the Euros sure aren’t lacking in that.

    1. They may have pride in their own countries; this is trying to create pan-European cultural pride.

      1. They think giving Italians free trips to see closed factories in Manchester is going to create pan-European cultural pride? Brilliant!

        1. I used to go to raves in those very same closed factories!

          wonder if the EU will pay for the MDMA aswell?

          great memories(or rather lack of them)!

  9. Well, then, I “deserve” to own a 1964 Studebaker Avanti, with the R4 engine and four-speed manual, as my next car.

    What’s that? Europe isn’t going to buy me one? Well, shit, I guess I’ll have to buy one myself… which was my first and only option, really.

    1. Your down by law, FIFY.

      1. Odd choice… I’d have gone for the 1956 Packard Caribbean.

  10. Is it just me, or was Europe better in separate parts? Aside from the occasional European war, of course.

    1. The Common Market is invaluable, not only in its own right but as an example to the rest of the world. So no, Europe was not better without that, and it’s easily worth the cost of all the michigos.

      1. It seems so much blander and irrelevant these days, though.

    2. Is it just me, or was Europe better in separate parts? Aside from the occasional European war, of course.

      But the wars were the best part. I loved when the game Combat Mission came out. It was about WW II. They did the western front and then the Russian Front and then the African one.

      CM 4 also known as Combat Mission Shock Force was about a conflict between the modern US military and SYRIA!

      Military computer games just suck now that millions of Europeans don’t regularly kill each other. Sigh.

      1. We’re working on the Serbo-Croat module now, with an optional Bosian slaughter add-on. Be patient.

        1. But… but… what about Somalia??

  11. Those Europeans and their schemes. I’m glad our leaders here in the U.S. don’t try useless and expensive schemes.

  12. Quiet, guys. Nancy Pelosi might read this and get ideas!

    1. Too late. It’s a human right to read H&R.

      1. With that much plastic surgery, I think you would have to campaign for “cyborg rights”, first.

  13. I haven’t read the full article, but I can only assume his declaration of the right to travel includes the right to hook up with cute French girls in a youth hostel bathroom. Otherwise people are being denied their fundamental human experience.

    1. The declaration only specifies “cute Mediterranean girls”, so this can range from Spanish to French to Italian to possibly even Greek.

  14. An’ wuh’f I don’ bloody want yer fuggin’ ‘oliday?!

  15. And the Berlusconi hits just keep on coming….

  16. No doubt dude, always gotta make time for play LOL


    1. I love you, anon-bot. Let’s run away together.

    2. This is a solid effort here, Lou. Not everything has to make sense when you think about it, dude. Now, back to polishing my shiny groin hammer.


      1. +1

      2. Dude, that is seriously messed up! It figures!


  17. Curse those Europeans and their different system of values. Curse them all!

    1. Everyone wants something ‘free’.

      It’s only nasty people who ask “Who’s gonna pay?”

      1. Nasty and probably racist.

  18. The white devils that own the tourism industry have stolen the wealth of poor European youths. The government is obligated to reverse this injustice.

  19. But… but… leisure time is guaranteed by teh Constitution! Just like health care! You’re just a bunch of selfish fucks, expecting people to pay for their own vacations!

    1. What they said!

    2. Excellent point, brother. It’s in the Declaration of Independence! How better to pursue happiness than to go on a vacation?

      What? You libertards are against happiness? You have a moral obligation to share your happiness! It’s a human right!

      You know, if I found someone sad on the street and some clown or comedian was just walking by without making him laugh, why, I think I’d have the obligation to force that funny person at gunpoint to spread some cheer. What, you don’t like that? That’s the price of civilization, my friend.

      You fucks are so selfish.

      1. I can’t afford to take a vacation, let alone hang a “Gone Fishin'” sign on my one-man, self-owned, non-franchise business… let alone pay for someone else to have a week off.

        So, yeah, I’m a selfish fuck. Try and legislate that, Congress.

        1. But this administration lowered your taxes. Don’t worry, because outcomes must be equalized for a fair society, we will legislate those outcomes. Morality demands it to be consistent.

          1. yes yes YES!

            si se puede (or something)

          2. I know! I’m getting almost $10 a week extra. I’ve decided to spend it on greasy Carl’s Jr. jalapeno burgers and cigarettes. That’s one of the former, and about half a pack of the latter.

            Thanks, Barry. You’re da bomb, or whatever those crazy kids say nowadays.

  20. I think the important thing is to look at who suggested it. Antonio Tajani comes from Italy, a country that is generally a tourist destination. My guess is the countries like the UK and Germany that will be net losers in this will tell Tajani to bugger off.

    1. Italy? I’m in!

    2. +1

      It’s a jerbs bill.

  21. *looks around*

    You Europeans better watch out, cause Dave Mathews is out to RUIN your vacation. I don’t see him here…yet…good luck, EU’ers.

  22. ‘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”.’

    When he becomes Commissioner of Culture, I wonder what right he would fight to ensure?

  23. Antonio Tajani must be a fan of The Beautiful South, “liberate the streets of Europe, give our kids a chance. Give them beaujolais by tap and cheap day trips to France…”

    1. I love you, celtgirl, but you’re boring.

        1. Don’t get overexcited, you five two.

  24. I actually like this idea. It could be even better for national pride and the environment if the young all got matching shirts and were led on vigorous marches from one country to another. Those who march the best could carry flags.

    It would be a bitter disappointment if, upon arrival in the destination country, there were no welcoming arms or empty beds. I believe that it would be the right of the visitors to choose suitable homes to use and special friends to comfort them.

    Since Poland lost its leadership in a recent tragedy, I think nearby countries, like Germany, have an obligation to start this program early by marching over and cheering them up.

    1. Well, cripes!

      It’s been over 70 years since the Germans visited Poland that way. Time for a new generation of Volk to move into Poland’s lebensraum.

      1. Except today’s German Jugend wouldn’t know what to do when they got there. They’re more concerned about Eco-everything and the latest jean fashions. OK, that was when I lived there 20 years ago. Maybe they’ve toughened up a bit since I left.

  25. Holy hell, what the fuck is this shit.

    I can’t wait until someone in the near future says “Sex with attactive people is a human right.” Watch out you sexy bastards, they’re coming for you next!

    1. You only think you’re joking. Britain’s National Health Service has already put out a pamphlet that says you have the right to an enjoyable sex life ( and it’s been batted around that the disabled should be provided with NHS sex workers:

      Belinda Brooks-Gordon is a psychologist and a Liberal Democrat county councillor in Cambridge. … She does not think that hiring sex workers for the disabled under the NHS would be out of the question.

      “Given that sex therapy is available on the NHS for men with penile dysfunction, for example, we could make a good case for saying that it should be provided,” she says. “At the very least the health service should explore all options available to help a patient in anguish. What about the young war veteran who has fought for his country and now has no legs, difficulty in finding a partner and can’t afford a prostitute? Or what about a man with Duchenne muscular dystrophy who is desperately saving for the first non-medical touch in his life?”


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