(BRUSSELS) – 18-year-olds in the EU have until 16 May to apply for 20,000 DiscoverEU travel passes, the Commission announced Thursday, for the opportunity to explore Europe between 1 August and 31 January.
This new application round follows a successful first year for an initiative that enables young people to explore Europe’s cultural diversity and shared values. For this second year of DiscoverEU, the Commission says it will be focusing on ‘enhancing the learning dimension of the project’.
Participants will be provided with information and travel tips about what to visit in Europe. Those interested can also receive a travel journal for them to record and reflect on their experiences, and will have the possibility to participate in organised community-building events during their trips.
In parallel, the EU executive says it wants to make DiscoverEU more inclusive and more accessible to all by making the application system even easier to use, providing tips for budget-friendly travelling and by accommodating, as far as possible, the needs of young people with disabilities so that they are able to travel.
Education Commissioner Tibor Navracsics said he hopes becoming part of DiscoverEU will inspire young people “to become engaged in their communities and become ambassadors for Europe. Whether it’s voting in the European Parliament elections, encouraging their peers to do the same, or working with us to build lively societies. Young people are the future of Europe, and it is critical their voices are heard.”
In order to apply, applicants must have been born between 2 July 2000 (included) and 1 July 2001 (included) and be prepared to travel between 1 August 2019 and 31 January 2020 for a maximum period of 30 days. Those interested in taking part can apply via the European Youth Portal. An evaluation committee will assess the applications and select the winners. Applicants will be notified of the selection results in June 2019.
Successful applicants will be able to travel individually or in a group of up to five people. As a general rule, they will travel by rail. However, to ensure wide access across the continent, participants can also use alternative modes of transport, such as buses or ferries or, exceptionally, planes. This will ensure that young people living in remote areas or on islands part of the EU also have a chance to take part.
DiscoverEU is a travel experience open to young Europeans, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, to learn whilst travelling. The Commission launched the initiative in June 2018 with an initial budget of €12 million; the budget for 2019 is €16 million. So far, DiscoverEU has given around 30,000 young people the opportunity to travel around Europe, explore the continent’s cultural heritage, get in touch with other people, learn from other cultures and experience what unites Europe. The first year of DiscoverEU brought together thousands of young people building a community across Europe. Participants who had never met before linked up on social media, formed groups to travel from city to city or stayed at each other’s places.
The Commission says it is planning to launch a fourth application round before the end of 2019.
The European Commission proposed €700 million for DiscoverEU under the future Erasmus programme in the EU’s next long-term budget (2021-2027). If the European Parliament and the Council agree to this proposal, an additional 1.5 million 18-year-olds would be able to travel between 2021 and 2027.