Much of Europe is dealing with a fiscal crisis caused by too much spending and economic stagnation caused by excessive taxation. But for the bureaucratic elite in Brussels, the important business of wasting other people’s money never goes on holiday. So it is quite appropriate that the latest hare-brained scheme from the continent is subsidized vacations. This is not a joke. Or, if it is, many newspapers have fallen for the story. The UK-based Times reports on this vital new addition to the list of human rights financed by other people’s money:
An overseas holiday used to be thought of as a reward for a year’s hard work. Now 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. …The European Union has experience of subsidised holidays. In February the European parliament paid contributions of up to 52% towards an eight-day skiing trip in the Italian Alps for 80 children of Eurocrats. 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.