In efforts to bring European youth closer to each other, offer them a chance to discover the continent’s diversity and instil a “sense of belonging”, the European Parliament will this week discuss plans to hand out free Interrail passes to EU residents on their 18th birthday.
If ratified, the plan will offer all EU citizens or legally residing individuals the chance to travel on the Interrail network across Europe free of charge. Popular with university and college students, Interrail’s global pass currently costs 479 euros for a month, offering unlimited train travel through 30 countries.
The proposal was drawn up by German MEP and chairman of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber, following European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s call last month on EU citizens to construct a “better Europe” through increased cooperation.
“Such a program would give the opportunity to all young people regardless of their social and educational background to discover Europe diversity, and promote Interrail travel as a pragmatic way to reduce carbon foot print,” the plan states.
According to media reports, Germany and Italy appear to be in favor of the proposal as well as the European Parliaments’ Conference of Presidents. Critics, however, say the plan benefits teens in wealthier EU nations as youth in crisis-hit countries like Greece or those suffering from high youth unemployment will most likely be unable to afford travel across Europe even on a free ticket.