Train travel is undoubtedly the best way to explore Europe, with almost the entire continent being connected by rail. The European Union wants young people to make the most of it – by giving them free tickets.
This first leg of the initiative will cost an estimated 12 million euros (£10.6 million), but this could grow to 100 million euros (£88.2 million) if the next 7-year EU budget plans are approved. This would give around 200,000 young people free tickets to range across Europe by rail.
This is how it’ll work this year: 18-year-olds can apply for a free ticket eligible for travel in up to four EU countries for a month. The first 15,000 recipients will be chosen in June, based on a quiz on EU heritage, culture, and current affairs. The second 15,000 will be selected in the autumn.
“It starts this year, and this is just the beginning,’ said German MEP Manfred Weber. “It will show the European people that the European Union is much more than a law-making machine.”
As things stand, young people from the United Kingdom will be able to apply for a free ticket, though this is likely to change once the UK leaves the European Union.
Online applications will be open between 12-26 June 2018, and winners will be notified in early July. Applicants must be 18 years old on 1 July 2018 and a national of one of the 28 EU Member States. You can apply as an individual or as a group of up to five (so you can go with your best mates!)
If you win, travel must start in an EU Member State, take place between July and September 2018, and your ticket will be valid for no more than 30 days and four cross-border destinations.
“There is more to this proposal than free train tickets. It is an investment in young people and in Europe’s future,” reads the official Discover EU website. “It reinforces the main aim of the European Union: to bring people together.”
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