It's a difficult time for the European Union, what with the UK's shock vote to leave in June and the rising tide of nationalism in many countries. Now EU officials have a new plan to combat this crisis of confidence in the bloc – one that will make the ears of teens across the continent prick up. The European Union has proposed gifting every teenager in the EU a free holiday by giving them a free month-long InterRail pass for their 18th birthday, allowing them to visit European countries without charge. Unfortunately British teenagers wouldn't benefit from the initiative because the UK will have most likely left the EU by the time the proposal comes into force. Politicians hope the proposal, which is currently being discussed in Brussels, will rekindle young people's enthusiasm for the EU and encourage them to make friends across borders, reported The Guardian. “People all around Europe must get to know and learn to cherish each other," said German politician Manfred Weber, who leads the biggest group in the EU legislature and is an ally of German chancellor Angela Merkel.
He added: "Our wish is that as many youngsters as possible... get to know other countries and make new friends," The Guardian reported. The EU’s transport chief Violeta Bulc told the European Parliament on Tuesday: “We admire the boldness and the level of ambition – and we are ready to explore it further.” At present, the passes – classified as under-26 tickets – cost up to €479 (£421) for a month, meaning the scheme could cost billions in total and could therefore be opposed by fiscally conservative member states and MEPs, the Financial Times reported. Around five million EU citizens turn 18 each year, so the plan could place strain on the rail system in some youth-friendly cities. Bulc said an option could be to dish the passes out via a lottery. Weber acknowledged it wouldn't be easy to enact the plan and would require rail operators to cooperate. InterRailing across Europe has been a rite of passage for teens since the 1970s and remains a popular option during the summer months. No doubt if this plan is enacted it will become even more difficult to get a seat.