Deadline looms for young people to enter contest to win EU rail pass

The DiscoverEU scheme is open to people aged 17-20 to compete for one of 60,000 free railpasses for a tour around the EU. It will be the last year young Britons can enter

19 October 2021

The scheme aims to help young people discover the landscapes of Europe and become more confident Pic: Morozova Oxana / Shutterstock

By Liv Rowland

Young EU citizens aged 17-20 have a chance to win one of 60,000 one-month EU railpasses (worth €258) to use next year – and for the last time this is open to Britons as well.

Exceptionally, as funding for this year’s DiscoverEU scheme has been transferred from two 2020 rounds cancelled due to Covid, British people are still eligible under the Brexit transition period rules.

The scheme allows for young people, alone or in groups of up to five, to do a tour of Europe for up to a month, with their rail fares paid for by the European Commission. Group applications are considered together but if accepted and a member decides to travel alone instead, this is also possible.

Entries close at noon on Tuesday October 26.

Organisers say the aim is to help young people discover Europe’s landscapes, cities and towns, meet like-minded people, strengthen their identity as EU citizens and become more independent and confident.

In theory the scheme is for 18-year-olds but this has also changed this year due to previous Covid-related cancellations. To be eligible this time you need to have been born between January 1, 2001 (age 20 and nine months) and December 31, 2003 (17 and nine months).

There are ‘flexible’ or ‘fixed’ options for the trip but most candidates go for the ‘flexible’ plan.

With the latter you can travel over a one-month period from a designated start date, with actual travel taking place on a set number of travel days on which you can take as many trains as you need. It is valid for travel all over the EU.

The travel must be between March 1, 2022 and February 28, 2023.

To apply visit this website. You have to respond to a short quiz, unless you are applying as a group, in which case one person does this and then passes an application code to other members of the group.

The European Commission will rank applicants by the quality of the answers and give a quota of passes per nationality. All applicants will be notified of the outcome by January 6, 2022.

Those selected are encouraged to act as ‘ambassadors’ for the EU, by blogging or posting on social media about their trip, or making a presentation in their school or local community on their return. There is also a photo and video competition that can be entered to win prizes.

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