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Calls to give free Interrail passes to all European 18-year-olds as birthday presents

The proposal is being put forward by Manfred Weber of the European People’s Party (EEP), the party in Europe aligned with Fine Gael.

File photo of trains at Lyon in France.
File photo of trains at Lyon in France.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

A NEW EU proposal will be brought to the parliament next week regarding gifting teenagers with a free interrail pass for their 18th birthday.

The proposal is being put forward by Manfred Weber of the European People’s Party (EEP), the party in Europe aligned with Fine Gael.

Weber is requesting that the European Commission funds and launches an initiative whereby 18-year-olds are gifted a single use interrail ticket for their birthday.

The programme would be funded by the European Commission in cooperation with member states and rail companies.

Interrailing is a common holiday option for Europeans and involves getting trains around Europe from place to place over a period of time.

Typically, a person buys a single multi-use ticket which they can to take trains all around Europe.

“The mobility of young people is essential in promoting a sense of belonging to Europe, enhancing social cohesion and ensuring a competitive European economy,” said Weber in the text of his question to be brought before the European Parliament.

Weber said that mobility of young people in Europe “is not yet widespread” and that ”populism and the spread of misinformation” was one of the biggest threats facing Europe.

He said granting free travel to young people to allow them to travel around Europe and would help combat this.

The proposal was welcomed and supported by Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes, who said that the pass would help promote tourism and enhance social cohesion.

Hayes also said that Europe needed to “move on from the failure on Brexit”.

“Europe needs to reach out to a younger generation. Europe badly needs to dream again and celebrate the common bonds that tie us together,” he said.

The 18th Birthday Interrail Pass for Europe would give all young people, regardless of their social and educational background, the opportunity to discover Europe.

The proposal is expected to be discussed in the European Parliament next week.

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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