The European Commission has taken its first steps towards implementing a scheme that will give 20,000-30,000 teenagers a free Interrail pass once they turn 18.
The EU’s executive branch agreed Thursday to set aside €12 million for the trial, but the figure could rise if MEPs later decide to extend it to more people.
The train ticket, worth up to €510 for a month’s travel, grants holders the chance to journey across 30 countries in Europe at almost no extra cost on 32 rail networks.
The European Parliament proposed the scheme in 2016 to encourage young people, especially those on low incomes, to explore the continent and “foster a European identity”.
The first participants will travel this summer.
Tibor Navracsics, the EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, 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."
Young Europeans from all member states are eligible for the free pass. It may also be used for alternative transportation, such on buses or ferries, in countries that lie outside the Interrail network. These include Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Cyprus.
The cost of providing a free Interrail ticket to all EU citizens who turn 18 has been estimated to be over €1 billion.