22nd May 2019

Italian beach rules rankle Germans

Italian and German newspapers have exchanged broadsides over beach etiquette in a storm-in-a-teacup spat with shades of the diplomatic row provoked by Italian tourism minister Stefano Stefani in 2003.

The latest argument broke out following the publication of a beach behaviour manual by Italy's Union of Bathing Establishments (SIB), which advised holiday makers to cover up their bodies, avoid excessive drinking and forego hanging up their clothes from parasols, the UK's Independent reports.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Germany's mass-selling Bild newspaper interpreted the move as an attack on northern European holiday habits, saying "Germans are unable to enjoy themselves" in Italy.

And Turin-based La Stampa fired back saying that to criticise beer-drinking "is a heresy for Germans, not unlike outlawing pizza in Italy".

Some Italian seaside towns already display signs forbidding bikini-wearing outside the beach, with police ordering visitors to cloak flesh.

History repeating itself

The newspaper debate has not attracted any comments from Italy or Germany's political classes so far, but is reminiscent of Mr Stefani's withering criticisms of German behaviour two years ago.

The former tourism minister said that "[Germans] rowdily invade our beaches but in their most widely read daily, Bild, right on cue before the beginning of every season, with a precision that is punctilious to say the least, they never omit to report the number of car thefts in Rimini or even the latest statistics for Mafia victims in Sicily".

The tourism minister also lashed out at socialist German MEP Martin Schulz saying that he "probably grew up amid noisy belching contests after gargantuan beer drinking sessions and huge helpings of fried potatoes".

His words led German chancellor Gerhard Schroder to cancel his holiday plans to Italy at the time, with the Independent noting that the Italian recession is hurting domestic travel within the country in 2005.

EU faces moment of truth at midnight on Sunday

Voters in the world's second-biggest election, the European Parliament ballot, will know before midnight on Sunday to what extent a foretold far-right surge has come to be.

Key details on how Europeans will vote

It's one of the biggest democratic exercises in the world with over 400 million eligible voters. National rules apply, and national parties run, but the stakes are at European level.


Voter turnout will decide Europe's fate

European voter turnout is in deep crisis. Since the early 2000s, the share of voters in national elections has fallen to 66 percent on average, which means that the birthplace of democracy now ranks below average globally.

Happy young Finns don't vote in EU elections

In Finland, only 10 percent of 18-24-year-olds voted at the previous EU elections in 2014. General satisfaction with the status quo of the EU membership could explain why youngsters do not feel like they need to vote.

News in Brief

  1. Poll: Denmark set to double number of liberal MEPs
  2. European brands 'breaking' chemical safety rules
  3. Report: Merkel was lobbied to accept EU top job
  4. May struggling to get Brexit deal passed at fourth vote
  5. German MPs show interest in 'Magnitsky' sanctions
  6. CoE: Rights violations in Hungary 'must be addressed'
  7. EU affairs ministers rubber-stamp new ban on plastics
  8. Private companies campaign to boost turnout in EU poll

Happy young Finns don't vote in EU elections

In Finland, only 10 percent of 18-24-year-olds voted at the previous EU elections in 2014. General satisfaction with the status quo of the EU membership could explain why youngsters do not feel like they need to vote.


All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us