Welcome to the archives for NewsTalk, an IBJ blog published from November 2007 through December 2010.

Ready for subsidized vacation?

April 21, 2010

Just when you think life in Europe can’t get any easier, along comes the European Union’s commissioner for enterprise and industry touting subsidized vacations. You heard it right. The enterprise chief proposes raising hundreds of millions of euros through additional taxes to help the aged, young adults, the disabled and families encountering “difficult social, financial or personal” circumstances get out of town.

The Times of London quotes Antonio Tajani as saying, “Traveling for tourism today is a right. The way we spend our holidays is a formidable indicator of our quality of life.”

Tajani envisions the subsidies enabling people to leave their own countries and experience other parts of the EU. About 30 percent of travel costs would be subsidized.

Elevating vacations to rights status is certainly consistent with Europe’s emphasis on equality, says Elham Mafi-Kreft, a clinical assistant business professor at Indiana University. But the native of France also doubts the EU can continue piling on costs and weighing down its economy.

At some point, the EU must swing back toward efficiency and growth, she says. Europe can’t continue to afford the lifestyle it has built.

How much that pendulum should swing, though, will be determined by a society that works to live rather than lives to work.

“It’s a hard one to choose,” Mafi-Kreft says. “And it’s a very cultural one.”

What do you think about subsidized vacations? About Americans’ work-leisure balance?

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