According to Liverpool Wired
, Italian beach businesses are already suffering due to the economic recession, but things are getting tougher.
Beach umbrellas have been shut, along large areas of Italian beaches in protest against new EU competition laws. The protest was largely symbolic in nature, but reflected the anger beach operators felt towards the EU competition rules.
Umbrellas were firmly closed, due to the hostile feeling, beach operators felt towards the EU and Italian government. The protest lasted for many hours on Friday. Holiday makers who wanted to hire an umbrella for their day at the beach, were unable to do so.
Changes have been made under the EU services directive, that aim to liberalize their license. Beach operators are infuriated that these changes are being implemented. The EU claim that the changes have been made to reflect safety and keeping criminals out. By making the licence auctions transparent, it is hoped that there will be less criminal activity. However, beach operators fear that the new rules, that are backed by the Italian government, are a threat to employment of nearly 600,000 resort workers.
The EU rules are expected to be implemented into the law by 2016 and will affect around 30,000 private beaches, that cover around a quarter of the Italian coastline. Supporters in the protest, claim that private beaches provide a clean, safe and efficient service to members of the public. However, critics are complaining that private beaches charge way too much for entry, according to BBC News
The strike was arranged by the beach workers' union to protest against the right to operate patches of seafront that will be organised by auction in effect from 2016. Beaches across Italy are largely state property, but they are managed by beach clubs. Beach clubs provide umbrellas, sun loungers and charge people to use them for the day. Entry to beaches is a hot political debate in Italy. Traditionally hot cities would be abandoned and the coast would be the popular spot for an August holiday season.
Holiday makers would rather use a sun lounger, than to lounge directly on the beach. However, beach goers could not opt for a sun lounger, or an umbrella as 30,000 beach clubs refused to open their doors on Friday. Environmentalist societies have long debated that the beach clubs' grip on local beaches, removes the chance to use the beach for free. However, the beach workers' union is claiming that the government will choose multinational businesses over smaller, local business, according to RTE News