European Commission Offers 35,500 DiscoverEU Free Travel Passes to Young People

The European Commission has announced the commencement of the latest round of the DiscoverEU program, which aims to allow young people to travel across Europe by train for free. The application window for the program opened at 12:00 CET on April 16, coinciding with the European Youth Week, and will remain open until 12:00 CET on Tuesday, April 30.

In this round, a total of 35,500 travel passes are available for young individuals born between July 1, 2005, and June 30, 2006. To obtain a pass, eligible candidates must complete a quiz comprising five questions about the EU and an additional question on the European Youth Portal. Successful applicants will be granted a free rail pass for travel within Europe for a period of up to 30 days between July 1, 2024, and September 30, 2025.

The call for applications is open to individuals from the European Union and countries associated with the Erasmus+ program, including Iceland, Liechtenstein, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, and Turkey. Travel pass recipients can plan their itineraries or draw inspiration from existing routes, such as the one launched last year. This route emphasizes visiting cities and places that align with the principles of the New European Bauhaus, focusing on beauty, sustainability, and inclusivity.

Moreover, participants can also take advantage of the DiscoverEU Culture Route, an initiative of the 2022 European Year of Youth, which encompasses various cultural destinations spanning architecture, music, fine art, theatre, fashion, and design. This includes visits to European Capitals of Culture, UNESCO World Heritage List sites, European Heritage Label sites, and Access City Award-label locations that have demonstrated exceptional efforts to enhance accessibility for all.

Beyond providing travel passes, DiscoverEU offers participants a discount card with over 40,000 discount opportunities for public transport, culture, accommodation, food, sports, and other services in eligible countries. Additionally, Erasmus+ National Agencies organise pre-departure information meetings, and national agencies across all Erasmus+ countries arrange DiscoverEU Meet-ups, offering one to three-day learning programs.

In line with the Erasmus+ program’s priority on social inclusion, participants with disabilities or health issues receive support during their journeys. The Erasmus+ National Agencies have implemented the DiscoverEU Inclusion Action since October 2022, allowing organisations working with young people with fewer opportunities to apply for a grant, thereby providing additional support to participants, including extra funding and the option to travel with accompanying persons. Notably, over 250 projects have been awarded by the Erasmus+ National Agencies under this action since its inception, with two calls for the Inclusion Action scheduled for this year.

While promoting sustainable travel via rail, DiscoverEU has made special provisions for young people from outermost regions, Overseas Counties and Territories, remote areas, and islands.

The DiscoverEU initiative was launched in June 2018 following a preparatory action from the European Parliament and has since been integrated into the Erasmus+ program for 2021-2027. Notably, since its inception, the program has received over 1 million applications for the 284,000 available travel passes. A post-travel survey revealed that 72% of candidates travelled out of their country of residence by train for the first time through DiscoverEU, with many experiencing independent travel for the first time. Additionally, the program has contributed to an increased understanding of other cultures and European history and enhanced foreign language skills among participants.

To apply, eligible candidates must complete a multiple-choice quiz on general knowledge about the European Union and other EU initiatives targeting young people. The Commission will rank applicants based on their responses and offer travel passes accordingly, up to the limit of available tickets.

The DiscoverEU experience has proven to be transformative for young people, fostering a sense of independence, cultural awareness, and language skills. Participants are also encouraged to become DiscoverEU Ambassadors to promote the initiative, with a dedicated group of over 96,000 members offering a platform for young travellers to share experiences and tips.

In conclusion, the latest round of the DiscoverEU program offers a valuable opportunity for young individuals to explore Europe, fostering cultural understanding, language skills, and independence while promoting sustainable and inclusive travel.