The European Parliament announced earlier this week that the EU plans to give 60,000 young people the opportunity to explore Europe by train in 2022 as part of the Erasmus + funded re-launch of the DiscoverEU program.
The program consists in providing free Interrail passes to 18 year olds in the hope that they will travel across Europe, which will lead to greater intercultural unity in EU Member States.
Each Member State receives a certain number of tickets, depending on its population, which it gives to those who are just 18 years old. Applicants must answer six quiz questions about European history and culture. The winners will then be selected based on responses from European Commission officials.
Applications open in October, giving winners the opportunity to travel for 30 days between March 2022 and March 2023. Due to uncertainties related to COVID-19, travelers receive flexible booking and interruption insurance.
Integration with Erasmus + means that the program needs to implement a more structured approach to learning.
Brussels actively encourages winners to visit lesser-known destinations in more remote areas of Europe, rather than visiting key tourist destinations.
Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Youth, expressed her belief that “DiscoverEU” will make young people think more positively about rail travel and made this program a “key element” in support of the goals of the European Year of Railways.