EU Parliament: Free pass to Europe?

Young Europeans are on track to receive a free InterRail pass on their 18th birthday in the future. MEPs discussed the proposal and overwhelmingly supported it during a debate in plenary on 4 October. Millions of young European have travelled throughout the continent using Interrail over the last few decades, but the pass itself can cost up to hundreds of euros.

Interrail is a pass allowing people to travel across Europe’s rail network freely. Users can use it to travel wherever they like on the continent. Some 300,000 people use InterRail passes to travel across Europe every year.   An InterRail pass cost ranges between €20 and €480 for a month-long pass.

The idea behind the proposal discussed in Parliament is to promote a travel mode with low greenhouse gas emissions, while enabling young European to meet and get to know Europe. Some member states are not members of the InterRail network: Malta, Cyprus, Estonia, Lativa and Lithuania. For them other means of transport such as buses and ferries could be considered.

During the debate on 4 October, Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc called the proposal an “excellent idea”. However, she said there would many challenges so further analysis will be required. “The Commission will carefully assess the potential costs and funding sources for this initiative as well as its administrative feasibility,” she said.

Bulc also suggested an alternative version of the scheme: “We may also consider possible variations to this excellent idea. An attractive option might be to have a lottery open to all or specific categories of young Europeans with a significant number winning free tickets.”

Most political groups spoke out in favour of the proposal.