The DiscoverEU programme offers free Interrail train tickets to 18-year-olds to encourage them to explore Europe.
European Union officials will hand out thousands of free Interrail thickets this year to encourage young people to explore Europe by train in 2022. Part of the relaunch of the DiscoverEU programme, it's expected that up to 60,000 travel passes will be distributed.
Unable to hand out last year's passes due to the onset of the pandemic, EU commissioner Mariya Gabriel confirmed that the 2020 budget (which had already been secured by the European Parliament prior to travel restrictions being introduced) will be added to this year's funds.
Speaking at the DiscoverEU webinar during the week, commissioner Gabriel said:
"Due to the pandemic, both DiscoverEU rounds planned in 2020 had to be cancelled and postponed.
"Nonetheless, the budget provided by the European Parliament for the action in 2020 was secured and we foresee to use this budget this year.
"We are envisaging one mega-round of 60.000 travel passes, to be launched probably this October."
Acknowledging that the 18-year-old cohort of 2020 was not able to travel, this year's call will be open for them as well. Later giving a predicted timeline of when the travel passes will be eligible for use, she went on to say:
"The selected participants will be able to travel between March 2022 and March 2023 for a period of 30 days."
The 60,000 travel passes will be distributed among EU member states - with officials allocating them based on population size. The commission has also committed to ensuring more flexible bookings, travel dates and routes are in place to accommodate young travellers.
It's expected that eligible participants will be able to apply via the European Youth Portal from this October, all going to plan.
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