European travel passes: 450 Belgian youths will travel for free
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    European travel passes: 450 Belgian youths will travel for free

    Trips can take up to 30 days and must include at least one Member State other than the one they live in.Credit: Pexels

    Of the 595 Belgian young people who applied to travel Europe for free, 450 have been accepted to travel between 1 April and 31 October 2020.

    A total of nearly 350,000 European eighteen-year-olds applied in 2018 and 2019 for a free travel pass through the European initiative DiscoverEU.

    Spread over four application rounds, around a total of 70,000 young people were able to obtain passes to travel around Europe. 

    As part of the fourth round, the results of which were announced on Wednesday, 595 Belgian young people applied, 450 of them will be able to travel between 1 April and 31 October 2020.

    Launched by the European Commission two years ago, “DiscoverEU” allows young people the chance to win a travel pass which allows them to make a self-planned trip at the EU’s expense.

    Winners travel primarily by rail, but in order to make the whole of Europe accessible, bus or car are allowed. Flying is also permitted in exceptional circumstances. 

    “Travelling through Europe and meeting young people from other countries enhances intercultural understanding, improves language skills and boosts self-confidence,” said Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, responsible for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth.

    For the time being, DiscoverEU is only a pilot project. For 2020, €25 million has been earmarked to continue the programme. The European Commission continues to promote the initiative and has therefore proposed to integrate it in the next Erasmus programme. If the European Parliament and the Council agree to the proposal, more 18-year-olds would be able to travel between 2021 and 2027.

    Trips can take up to 30 days and must include at least one Member State other than the one they live in. With the travel pass, participants also receive support and guidance on, for example, sustainable travel.

    Jules Johnston
    The Brussels Times