There is more to this proposal than free train tickets. It is an investment in young people and in Europe's future. It reinforces the main aim of the European Union: to bring people together. We want young Europeans to discover the EU is also about emotions, not just politics. We want to give them a taste of what it feels like, not only to be Slovak, German or Greek, but also European. And what better way than by taking the train?
Every country in the European Union invests a lot in their national identity. That's how we know the tie originated in Croatia, or that Italy is world famous for its cuisine, or that French wines are among the best in the world. But what about our common identity? We need to make a similar investment at European level. The European Parliament called for a specific budget to cover the free ticket programme and the European Commission responded with €12m for 15,000 DiscoverEU Passes in 2018. But this is just the start: we want every 18-year-old to have this chance.
A free Interrail ticket could help hundreds of thousands of young Europeans fulfil aspirations that are beyond their means. And funding travel costs is just the start. Regions and cities could follow up by welcoming young Interrailers with language-learning, cultural and social activities, or even targeted assistance for accommodation. The possibilities are endless.
All you should need for Interrail is some spare weeks and lots of curiosity. And all we need for this project to become a reality is your help, your support, your say.
"Getting to know your neighbours and discovering what Europe is about is so important. Europe is all about you; it's about the people who are so different and yet so similar. It's about getting to know one another. That's why Interrail is great. You get to travel all around Europe and find out how beautiful our continent is."
Manfred Weber, Chairman, Group of the European People's Party
Make it around Europe.
Make Europe yours.
Online applications will be open from 12-26 June 2018.
Selection, by a jury of European Commission officials, will start on June 27.
Winners will be notified in early July.
Conditions for applicants
18 years old on 1 July 2018.
National of one of the 28 EU Member States.
Individuals or as a group of up to 5.
Starts in one of the 28 EU Member States.
Between July and September 2018.
For between 1 and 30 days.
To at least 1 and up to 4 cross-border destinations.
Motivation to visit at least one European Cultural Heritage site.
Applicants need to respond to a quiz on EU cultural heritage, European Parliament elections and Youth.
Want to become a DiscoverEU Ambassador.
Reporting on their travel experiences on social media and making their pictures available for the DiscoverEU anniversary photo exhibition at the European Parliament.