Fine Gael Senator and Government spokesman on EU Affairs in Seanad Éireann, Neale Richmond, has added his voice to the campaign by MEP Manfred Weber, calling on the European Commission to issue all Europeans with a free, once off, inter rail pass for their 18th birthday.
“In the wake of Brexit and with the rise of Eurosceptic parties across the continent, it has become quite clear that the European Union (EU) faces a perilous future with many citizens feeling a clear disconnect from it.
“It is vital now that the EU goes to extra lengths to demonstrate the benefits of the EU, particularly to those of a generation who do not remember the dark days of the Second World War or who have grown up taking for granted common travel, the free movement of people, Erasmus and a common currency.
“Fine Gael is a proud member of the European People’s Party (EPP) and I am delighted that Manfred Weber, the leader of the EPP in the European Parliament, has begun this campaign to provide each EU citizen with a free inter rail pass on the occasion of their 18th birthday.
“This is an excellent way in which the EU can proactively demonstrate the real benefits of the European project, encouraging young Europeans to take advantage of the right to common travel and to discover the culture of all of Europe. It is a great way to connect young Europeans.
“The EU has invested heavily into the railway infrastructure of Europe and rail orientated funds will grow from €23.4 billion to €29.9 billion from 2014 – 2020.
“As a student, I was very fortunate to travel across Europe on an inter railing ticket and it was that experience that plays such a large part in my belief in the greatness of the European project and the importance that, particularly now in the wake of Brexit, we fight for the survival and continuing strengthening of the EU.”