Ask EP By / April 18, 2018

What is the ‘Free Interrail pass for Europeans’ EU initiative?

Young citizens are increasingly turning to the European Parliament asking for information on the initiative to give EU 18 year olds free Interrail tickets.

© BorderaS. / Fotolia
Travelers planning a travel on a train
© BorderaS. / Fotolia

Young citizens are increasingly turning to the European Parliament asking for information on the initiative to give EU 18 year olds free Interrail tickets.

Further to the European Parliament’s proposal for a ‘Free Interrail pass for Europeans turning 18’, the European Union (EU) has taken the first steps to implement this initiative. An estimated 20 000-30 000 young people may benefit from this opportunity to travel which would, among other things, help foster a European identity and reinforce common European values.

A preparatory action was foreseen in the 2018 EU budget and, on 1 March 2018, the European Commission adopted a financial decision in this regard.

A promotion campaign to inform young citizens of this opportunity will be organised. More information is available in the European Commission’s daily news of 1 March 2018.

European Parliament action

Following an oral question proposing the launch of a new programme entitled ’18th birthday Interrail pass for Europe’, the European Parliament held a debate on this issue on 4 October 2016. In her statement, the European Commissioner for Transport pledged the Commission’s support.

The European Parliament reiterated the call for the Commission to put forward relevant proposals for an ’18th Birthday Interrail Pass for Europe’ in its resolution of 5 July 2017 on the mandate for the trilogue on the 2018 draft budget.

Furthermore, in its resolution of 14 March 2018 on the next multiannual financial framework (MFF) post-2020, the European Parliament calls on the Commission to follow up the project and ‘put forward a dedicated programme in the next MFF with sufficient annual appropriations to cover all applications for a free railway pass coming from young Europeans that turn 18 in a specific year’.

The Parliament also ‘underlines that such a project would become a key component in increasing European consciousness and identity, especially in the face of such threats as populism and the spread of misinformation’ and ‘reiterates that in order to reach the objective of such a programme, a proposal for a proper legal base is expected from the Commission’.

2018 EU Budget

On 30 November 2017, the budget of the European Union for 2018 was adopted with €12 million in commitments for the preparation for a ‘Free Interrail pass for Europeans turning 18’.

The key requirements and action points for the project are laid out under item 15 02 77 20 in the European Union’s general budget for the 2018 financial year (pages 1144-1145).

As stated in the 2018 EU budget, the ‘Commission must build on experience gained from existing programmes, but the preparatory action must be viewed as new and separate, in particular with a view to targeting young people who are currently not covered by any European programme.’ Programmes such as Erasmus+ must not be affected.

Furthermore, ‘the preparatory action will cover young people from all Member States regardless of whether they are part of the Interrail network (the five Member States currently not covered being Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Cyprus)’.

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