The European Union derailed a proposal that will give at least 5,000 European teenagers who are eighteen years of age a free InterRail ticket for travels in other European countries. Instead, EU will only subsidize a portion of the total amount stipulated in the proposal.
The plan was unveiled by the European Commission. According to the said proposal, an all-expense paid bus ride or airplane tickets will be given to 7,000 European college students aged 18 to any European country. However, after further evaluation, the commission said that the proposal for free travel for teenagers, which has an estimated cost of 1.6 billion Euros or 1.7 billion USD, would be too costly.
In its official statement, the European Commission said, "The commission has estimated that such an initiative would cost between 1.2 billion euros and 1.6 billion euros a year. This kind of funding is currently not available."
According to The Brussel Times, the Commission said that despite the fact that it cannot grant the proposal by MEPs, it desires to create a new plan which is derived from the MEPs plan "while ensuring an educational dimension and taking into account current organizational and budgetary constraints". Therefore, the European Commission suggested a low-priced alternative wherein, instead of granting the proposed 1.6 billion Euros or 1.7 billion USD fund for the free travel for teenagers, the Commission will only release a 2.5-million Euro or 2.7-million USD budget to fund the travel for young European students.
Meanwhile, according to a report by Euractiv, the center-right European People's Party tagged the commission's decision as a "missed opportunity". EPP Chief Manfred Weber said that the European Commission could have made use of the celebration of Treaty of Rome's 60th anniversary as an opportunity to "present an original and ambitious proposal that will make people enthusiastic about Europe again."
However, Weber claimed that EPP will continue to strive towards the approval of the said proposal and for its inclusion in the European Union's budget for 2017. He even stressed that the plan to distribute free InterRail passes is "far from being dead." EPP is the largest group in the European Union Parliament. At present, nineteen airlines, train operators, and bus companies already agreed for the implementation of discounted rates for students who will use the travel subsidy.