The European Parliament announced earlier this week that the EU is planning on providing 60,000 young people the opportunity to explore Europe by train in 2022, as part of the ‘DiscoverEU’ program relaunches, funded by Erasmus+.
The program consists of providing 18-year-olds with free Interrail passes in the hopes that the will travel across Europe, leading to greater intercultural unity across the EU member states.
Each member state will receive a certain amount of tickets, depending on population size, which they will gift to those who just turned 18. Applicants will need to respond to six quiz questions about European history and culture. The winners are then selected based on the answers they provided by European Commission officials.
Applications will open in October, giving the winners the chance to travel between March 2022 and March 2023 for a period of 30 days. Due to uncertainties related to COVID-19, travelers will be given flexible bookings and interruption insurance.
The integration into Erasmus+ means the program will need to implement a more structured learning approach.
Brussels is actively encouraging the winners to visit lesser-known destinations in more remote areas of Europe, rather than to major tourist destinations.
Mariya Gabriel, the EU’s Commissioner for research, innovation, and youth, communicated her belief that ‘DiscoverEU’ will make the youth think more positively of rail travel, making this program a “key element” in supporting the goals of the European Year of Rail.
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