At the beginning of last month, the European Commission opened the applications for the DiscoverEU program, giving free rail tickets to up to 25K 18 years old.
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Last week, the European Commission announced they had selected 15K people from the first round, with over 100K applicants. In other words, the DiscoverEU initiative can already be considered a success, due to the number of young Europeans interested in travelling around the European Union. All that is left to see is whether the young travellers will make good use of their “birthday gift” and if this experience will leave a positive impact in their lives.
This year, the DiscoverEU program will allow up to 25K 18 years old to travel around the Union using the rail. The program gives a free Interrail ticket, which usually cost around 500 euros, encouraging people to discover other countries and cultures, reinforcing their identity as European citizens. If needed, alternative transportation methods will be allowed, such as ferry or bus if there’s no rail nearby.
The selected people should have already been contacted and will start travelling between the 9th July (in 4 days) and the 30th September of this year. They can travel for up to 30 days, alone or in groups of maximum 5 members, and go to up to 4 different countries.
A second round will be held later in autumn 2018, selecting up to 10K more people for a free Interrail ticket. Originally, the European Commission was talking of up to 30K young people benefiting from the DiscoverEU program, but it seems that, with 15K tickets already handed out, there’s only enough funding left for a maximum of 10K more tickets, bringing the total amount of people benefiting from the DiscoverEU initiative to 25K.
Tickets were allocated according to a quota, which depends on the total population of the country. The more citizens, the more tickets were allocated. We were quite critical of this in one of our past articles, as some countries such as Malta would only get 13 tickets, while Germany would get 2 427. Concerning the UK, we said “Curiously, the UK got a quota of 1 929 tickets. For a country who’s supposedly leaving in March 2019, this seems a waste.”, and we still feel that way.
The DiscoverEU initiative was proposed by the European Parliament a few years ago, intending to give all 18 years old in the European Union the opportunity to travel around the Union. For the 2021 to 2027 period, the European Commission has proposed a budget of 700 million euros, enabling 1.5 million young Europeans to benefit from the program. The budget has not yet been voted.
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