The EU's plan to give a free continental rail pass to all Europeans for their 18th birthday in an effort to encourage young people to “get to know other countries and make new friends” may not be possible due to lack of funding, politicians have said.
Transport commissioner at the European Commission, Violeta Bulc, said the financial viability of the free ticketing scheme would be explored, and voiced hopes it could help rekindle enthusiasm for the European Union among young people.
Following the UK’s recent vote to leave the union, British teenagers will not qualify for the tickets, and many EU politicians see the scheme as an opportunity to counter nationalist feelings across Europe post-Brexit.
“People all around Europe must get to know and learn to cherish each other. Our wish is that as many youngsters as possible ... get to know other countries and make new friends,” Bavarian MEP Manfred Weber told Reuters.
“I am convinced that the 18th birthday InterRail pass for Europe could become a true lighthouse project for the development of a common European identity in diversity.
“This may not sound like much but sometimes it only takes a spark to light a fire that burns forever. The nationalists are against this: they want neighbours not to be seen as friends.”
What experts have said about Brexit
What experts have said about Brexit
1/11 Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond
The Chancellor claims London can still be a world financial hub despite Brexit “One of Britain’s great strengths is the ability to offer and aggregate all of the services the global financial services industry needs” “This has not changed as a result of the EU referendum and I will do everything I can to ensure the City of London retains its position as the world’s leading international financial centre.”
2/11 Yanis Varoufakis
Greece's former finance minister compared the UK relations with the EU bloc with a well-known song by the Eagles: “You can check out any time you like, as the Hotel California song says, but you can't really leave. The proof is Theresa May has not even dared to trigger Article 50. It's like Harrison Ford going into Indiana Jones' castle and the path behind him fragmenting. You can get in, but getting out is not at all clear”
3/11 Michael O’Leary
Ryanair boss says UK will be ‘screwed’ by EU in Brexit trade deals: “I have no faith in the politicians in London going on about how ‘the world will want to trade with us’. The world will want to screw you – that's what happens in trade talks,” he said. “They have no interest in giving the UK a deal on trade”
4/11 Tim Martin
JD Wetherspoon's chairman has said claims that the UK would see serious economic consequences from a Brexit vote were "lurid" and wrong: “We were told it would be Armageddon from the OECD, from the IMF, David Cameron, the chancellor and President Obama who were predicting locusts in the fields and tidal waves in the North Sea"
5/11 Mark Carney
Governor of Bank of England is 'serene' about Bank of England's Brexit stance: “I am absolutely serene about the … judgments made both by the MPC and the FPC”
6/11 Christine Lagarde
IMF chief urges quick Brexit to reduce economic uncertainty: “We want to see clarity sooner rather than later because we think that a lack of clarity feeds uncertainty, which itself undermines investment appetites and decision making”
7/11 Inga Beale
Lloyd’s chief executive says Brexit is a major issue: "Clearly the UK's referendum on its EU membership is a major issue for us to deal with and we are now focusing our attention on having in place the plans that will ensure Lloyd's continues trading across Europe”
8/11 Colm Kelleher
President of US bank Morgan Stanley says City of London ‘will suffer’ as result of the EU referendum: “I do believe, and I said prior to the referendum, that the City of London will suffer as result of Brexit. The issue is how much”
9/11 Richard Branson
Virgin founder believes we've lost a THIRD of our value because of Brexit and cancelled a deal worth 3,000 jobs: We're not any worse than anybody else, but I suspect we've lost a third of our value which is dreadful for people in the workplace.' He continued: "We were about to do a very big deal, we cancelled that deal, that would have involved 3,000 jobs, and that’s happening all over the country"
10/11 Barack Obama
US President believes Britain was wrong to vote to leave the EU: "It is absolutely true that I believed pre-Brexit vote and continue to believe post-Brexit vote that the world benefited enormously from the United Kingdom's participation in the EU. We are fully supportive of a process that is as little disruptive as possible so that people around the world can continue to benefit from economic growth"
11/11 Kristin Forbes
American economist and an external member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England argues that the economy had been “less stormy than many expected” following the shock referendum result: “For now…the economy is experiencing some chop, but no tsunami. The adverse winds could quickly pick up – and merit a stronger policy response. But recently they have shifted to a more favourable direction”
However, some EU politicians are concerned the project will face many obstacles - primarily involving funding and potential overcrowding of major rail stations - and therefore will not be realised in the near future.
As an InterRail ticket currently costs up to €480, the scheme could cost up to €2.88 billion, the majority of which would have to be provided by the EU. An estimated six million young Europeans would be eligible for the initiative annually.
Ms Bulc conceded the costs involved raised questions over the scheme.
"Extending access to all 18 year olds for free would therefore present many challenges which require further analysis," she said.
"The Commission will carefully assess the potential cost and funding sources for this initiative, as well as its administrative feasibility. The possible scope of such a scheme must be explored - for instance how can we take into account that fact not all Member States' railways are InterRail members?"
She added that one option could be to limit the issue of the birthday passes via an annual lottery.
If approved, the scheme would be introduced across Europe at the start of 2018.Reuse content