MEP István Ujhelyi reported at a press conference held online via Facebook that hundreds of young Hungarians have benefitted from the free passes over the years. The popularity of the program is proven by the fact that there were almost 10 times as many applicants as there were tickets available in Hungary.
When two young German activists came up with the idea of giving young Europeans a free train pass on their 18th birthday, Ujhelyi was the first to embrace it. To date, more than 350,000 young Europeans have applied, and more than 70,000 have received free train passes.
The MEP also noted the importance of the next seven-year EU budget not only maintaining but also expanding funding for Erasmus+, which now includes a separate budget line for DiscoverEU.
The Hungarian Government has not joined the program, as it would cost about HUF 9 billion a year. But several municipalities have, buying free passes for local youth from their own budgets, for example, Ajka and Veszprém. The latter city has purchased InterRail passes worth HUF 1 million, Ujhelyi said.