Free Interrail passes planned for thousands of 18-year-olds
An exciting scheme, which could give thousands of British 18-year-olds the chance to travel around Europe for free, has been announced by the EU.
The political body has approved a plan to give free Interrail passes for Europeans turning 18 this year - allowing teenagers to travel across 30 countries while exploring new cultures and making friends.
It is hoped the scheme, which has cost around €12 million to fund, will be taken up by between 20-30,000 young people across the EU.
According to the rules, only EU citizens or those legally residing within the EU and who were born in 2000 will be able to apply for tickets to travel this summer.
But with Britain set to leave the EU in 2019, this may be the only year British teenagers are able to take up the opportunity.
A spokesman for the European Commission said: "The European Commission has today taken first steps to implement the European Parliament's proposal for a "Free Interrail pass for Europeans turning 18".
"This proposal fits well with the EU's ambitions to promote learning mobility, active citizenship, social inclusion and solidarity of all young people.
Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, said: "It is important that we offer all our young people the opportunity to broaden their horizons by experiencing other countries.
"Education is not only about what we learn in the classroom, but what we discover about the cultures and traditions of our fellow Europeans."
The action will seek to offer young people, regardless of social or educational background and including people with reduced mobility, a chance to travel abroad.
A promotional campaign to inform young Europeans turning 18 about the opportunity will be organised and may include an open competition to select the first young people who will be travelling.
The first participants are expected to travel this summer.
The They will do so by rail as a general rule, but alternative modes of transport should be available where necessary, taking into account environmental considerations, as well as time and distance.