The Com­mis­sion has opened the sec­ond round of Dis­cov­erEU, with over 12,000 travel passes avail­able for 18-year-olds in the EU to ex­plore Europe in 2019.

The Malta Business Weekly - - LEADER / OPINION -

What is Dis­cov­erEU?

Dis­cov­erEU is an EU ini­tia­tive which of­fers 18-yearolds a travel ex­pe­ri­ence that will en­able them to take ad­van­tage of the free­dom of move­ment in the Eu­ro­pean Union, dis­cover the di­ver­sity of Eu­ro­pean re­gions, en­joy its cul­tural rich­ness, and con­nect with peo­ple from all over the con­ti­nent. At the same time, they will have the chance to learn more about them­selves, gain self-con­fi­dence and im­prove key com­pe­ten­cies such as prob­lem-solv­ing and for­eign lan­guage skills.

Any EU cit­i­zen born be­tween 1 Jan­uary 2000 and 31 De­cem­ber 2000 will be able to ap­ply for this round.

Why don’t you of­fer this op­por­tu­nity to all 18-year-olds?

The aim is to give as many young peo­ple as pos­si­ble the chance to ben­e­fit from Dis­cov­erEU. How­ever, with a cur­rent bud­get of €12 mil­lion, it is not pos­si­ble to of­fer travel passes to all 18-year-olds in Europe.

Fol­low­ing the huge in­ter­est this sum­mer and the over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive feed­back from par­tic­i­pants, the Com­mis­sion wants to de­velop Dis­cov­erEU, fur­ther strength­en­ing the ini­tia­tive’s out­reach to dis­ad­van­taged groups and learn­ing di­men­sion in line with the gen­eral ob­jec­tives of the fu­ture Eras­mus pro­gramme. There­fore, the Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion has pro­posed to al­lo­cate €700 mil­lion to the ini­tia­tive un­der the fu­ture Eras­mus pro­gramme (2021-2027). If the Eu­ro­pean Par­lia­ment and the Coun­cil agree to the pro­posal, an ad­di­tional 1.5 mil­lion 18-year-olds will be able to travel be­tween 2021 and 2027.

Will there be a quota per coun­try?

A quota of travel passes is set for each Mem­ber State based on the share of its pop­u­la­tion com­pared to the over­all pop­u­la­tion of the Eu­ro­pean Union. In case there are fewer ap­pli­cants in cer­tain coun­tries than their fixed quo­tas, the re­main­ing travel passes will be distributed among the coun­tries where there are more ap­pli­cants than their quo­tas.

Who can par­tic­i­pate and how?

All EU na­tion­als who will be 18 years old on 31 De­cem­ber 2018 can ap­ply. This means that young peo­ple born be­tween 1 Jan­uary 2000 (in­cluded) and 31 De­cem­ber 2000 (in­cluded) are el­i­gi­ble to par­tic­i­pate. Young peo­ple have to sub­mit their ap­pli­ca­tion on­line through the Eu­ro­pean Youth Por­tal dur­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion pe­riod from Thurs­day 29 Novem­ber 2018 at 12:00 (mid­day) CET to Tues­day 11 De­cem­ber at 12:00 (mid­day) CET.

Why is the ini­tia­tive only ac­ces­si­ble to young peo­ple aged 18?

Dis­cov­erEU is an ini­tia­tive orig­i­nally re­quested by the Eu­ro­pean Par­lia­ment with the ob­jec­tive of pro­vid­ing travel and mo­bil­ity op­por­tu­ni­ties for young peo­ple turn­ing 18. The pro­gramme specif­i­cally tar­gets 18-year-olds, as this age marks a ma­jor step to adult­hood which should go hand in hand with an in­creased un­der­stand­ing for Europe in all its di­ver­sity.

For how many days are par­tic­i­pants al­lowed to travel?

Young peo­ple can travel for a min­i­mum of 1 day and up to 1 month. They should visit at least one Mem­ber State in the Eu­ro­pean Union other than their coun­try of res­i­dence. The trip must start be­tween 15 April 2019 (first de­par­ture date) and 31 Oc­to­ber 2019 (last re­turn date)

What modes of trans­port can be used?

As a ba­sic rule, par­tic­i­pants will travel by rail. Nev­er­the­less, in or­der to en­sure the widest pos­si­ble ac­cess — for in­stance among young peo­ple with spe­cial needs, or those liv­ing in re­mote ar­eas — al­ter­na­tive trans­port modes can be of­fered, such as buses or fer­ries, when nec­es­sary and tak­ing into ac­count en­vi­ron­men­tal, travel and dis­tance con­sid­er­a­tion. Travel will be in sec­ond class.

Can a par­tic­i­pant travel alone or in a group of friends?

The project fore­sees that par­tic­i­pants can travel ei­ther in­di­vid­u­ally or in a group of max­i­mum 5 peo­ple. In the case of a group, a group leader must be ap­pointed on the group’s be­half. The group leader will fill in the ap­pli­ca­tion form and re­spond to the quiz and sub­sidiary ques­tion. S/he will re­ceive a code in the con­fir­ma­tion email when sub­mit­ting the ap­pli­ca­tion and should com­mu­ni­cate this code to the group mem­bers in or­der to al­low their reg­is­tra­tion. Based on the code pro­vided by the group leader, the re­main­ing group mem­bers will be able to reg­is­ter on­line and fill in their per­sonal data.

If a group ap­pli­ca­tion is suc­cess­ful, will all group mem­bers be able to par­tic­i­pate?

Yes, a group ap­pli­ca­tion will be as­sessed as one sin­gle ap­pli­ca­tion.

How are the young peo­ple se­lected?

The se­lec­tion of ap­pli­cants will take place via an on­line ap­pli­ca­tion tool avail­able on the Eu­ro­pean Youth Por­tal. Ap­pli­cants will first have to pass the el­i­gi­bil­ity cri­te­ria check. Then, all ap­pli­cants will need to com­plete a quiz. They must an­swer 5 mul­ti­ple choice quiz ques­tions linked to the 2018 Eu­ro­pean Year of Cul­tural Her­itage, other Eu­ro­pean Union ini­tia­tives tar­get­ing young peo­ple and the up­com­ing Eu­ro­pean Par­lia­ment elec­tions. Fi­nally, they will need to an­swer an ad­di­tional ques­tion re­lated to the cur­rent ap­pli­ca­tion round. The cor­rect replies to the quiz and this fi­nal ques­tion will al­low the Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion to make the se­lec­tion and to rank the ap­pli­cants in case there are more ap­pli­ca­tions than the bud­get can cater for.

What about young peo­ple with re­duced mo­bil­ity and/or spe­cial needs?

Young peo­ple with spe­cial needs (such as re­duced mo­bil­ity, vis­ual im­pair­ments) may be en­ti­tled to re­ceive ap­pro­pri­ate ad­di­tional sup­port. Those costs will be as­sessed on a case-by-case ba­sis ac­cord­ing to their needs and based on ap­pro­pri­ate doc­u­ments, as re­quired un­der the na­tional law of the Mem­ber State of res­i­dence. In this re­spect, costs of spe­cial as­sis­tance (for ex­am­ple an ac­com­pa­ny­ing per­son, a dog for vis­ually im­paired par­tic­i­pants) might be cov­ered. The Com­mis­sion strongly en­cour­ages young peo­ple with spe­cial needs to ap­ply.

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