The mobility of young people is essential in promoting a sense of belonging to Europe, enhancing social cohesion and ensuring a competitive European economy. However, the mobility of young people is not yet widespread despite the success of the Erasmus, Erasmus + and related programs. Now, European Union (EU) plans to give free Interrail pass to every 18-year-old in Europe on their birthday.
Under the initiative all EU citizens or legally residing individuals would receive a pass as soon as they turned 18, which they can use to travel the vast railway network connecting most major cities throughout the continent. The politicians think that the idea will encourage them to extend their support towards the European Union.
Citizens of member states not part of the Interrail connection, such as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Cyprus and Malta, will be allowed to use other modes of transport free of charge under the scheme, such as a bus or ferry.
MEPs will vote on the proposal this week, which has been drawn up by German MEP Manfred Weber, Chairman of the EPP Group in the European Parliament.
Speaking at the European Parliament earlier this year, Mr Weber said the Interrail initiative would enable young people “to discover the beauty and diversity of Europe over three weeks within a two-year period”.
According to calculations by German news service Tagesschau, the cost of the proposal could reach €1.5bn (£1.3bn) per year, assuming between 50 and 70 per cent of the estimated 5.4 million 18-year-old living in the EU at present took up the offer.