BRUSSELS – The European Union is convinced it has found a new way for young people to fall in love with the continent — free train rides.
The EU kicked off the DiscoverEU project Thursday to send up to 30,000 18-year-olds chugging across the 28 member states this year, giving them free rail transport to broaden their horizon beyond national borders. All for a taxpayers' cost of 12 million euros ($14 million).
If all goes well, and the next 7-year EU budget plans are approved, that could turn into a budget of 100 million euros ($120 million) a year, with some 200,000 teenagers getting to know the joys of EU-wide Interrail travel.
European lawmakers Manfred Weber says: "This is just the beginning."