Discovering Europe: Free EU rail pass for 18 year olds

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.

A pilot project enabling 15,000 young people to travel around Europe by train this summer is to be rolled out by the EU Commission, acting on Parliament’s proposals.

On May 24, the EU Commission launched a website with details of the project, where young people from 28 EU countries can apply, between 12 and 26 June, for a travel pass. They should plan to start their journey between July and end of September 2018, to up to four EU destinations.

MEPs first called for an initiative to give young Europeans turning 18 a free Interrail train pass to discover Europe in a European Parliament debate in October 2016.

Parliament again called on the Commission to table proposals for an”18th Birthday Interrail Pass for Europe” in its resolutions of 5 July 2017 and 14 March 2018.

Following its demands, a €12 million pilot project to trial the idea was included in the EU budget for 2018 and approved on 30 November 2017. It should enable about 15,000 young people to discover other EU countries this summer.  A second round of applications should be launched later this year.

About the initiative 

All nationals of one of the 28 EU member states who will be 18 years old on 1 July 2018 can apply. This means young people born between 2 July 1999 and 1 July 2000 (included) are eligible.

Young people can travel between a minimum of 1 and up to 30 days inclusive. They can visit from one to four foreign country destinations in the 28 EU member states. The journey must start in an EU country between 9 July 2018 and 30 September 2018.

Participants will, in principle, travel by rail. Nevertheless, in order to ensure the widest possible access, the project will offer alternative transport modes, such as buses or ferries, as required. The use of flights will only be considered on an exceptional basis for participants based in remote or outermost regions. See here for further information.

More information about the initiative and how to apply

In its proposals for the EU’s long-term budget for 2021-2027, unveiled on 2 May, the Commission has also proposed to earmark another €700 million for the initiative to be continued and developed in the future. This latest proposal will now need to be discussed by the EU member states and the European Parliament.

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