The European Parliament is set to debate a proposal that would see a free, month-long Interrail pass given to teenagers from the EU on their 18th birthday.
The proposal has been tabled by Manfred Weber, chairman of the European People’s Party (EPP), who are the largest political group in the European Parliament.
“Europe is about emotions, to see other cultures, to see other languages, to learn about languages, to see other young people in the European Union,” Weber said in a video posted on the EPP Group twitter account.
The month-long Interrail pass now costs €479 and gives travellers unlimited rail travel through 30 countries over that period of time.
“Such a programme would give the opportunity to all young people regardless of their social and educational background to discover Europe diversity, and promote Interrail travel as a pragmatic way to reduce carbon footprint,” the EPP Group said in their proposal.
In their plan, the EPP Group have also stated that funding would come from the European Commission, “in close cooperation with the railway companies and the Member States.”
The proposal has been welcomed throughout the European Parliament. Violeta Bulc, the European Commissioner for Transport called it an “excellent idea” and stated that the commission “admire the boldness and the level of ambition – and are ready to explore it further.”
With around 300,000 people using Interrail every year, buying passes ranging from 200 to 480 euro, there will be challenges to overcome before the scheme is put into action.
“The Commission will carefully assess the potential cost and funding sources for this initiative,” Bulc said in her statement.
Weber however, says that project is feasible and is purely a matter of political will. “It’s a big project, that’s for sure but we can manage it. It is a question of political will. If we want to give the young generation a good perspective of the European Union, let’s do it.”