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by Alexander Fiuza

The European Union is well known for its willingness to spend billions of pounds on its propaganda. It gives handouts to loyal Non-Governmental Organisations, sets up wasteful promotional projects, and spends huge amounts on propaganda gimmicks. Recent research by Get Britain Out shows it is sticking to old habits. A report from the EU Budgetary Committee restates the European Parliament’s support for a so-called ‘18th Birthday Interrail Pass For Europe’, calling on the Commission to push it forward. This scheme, first proposed in 2016, would give every teenager in Europe a ‘free’ interrail pass when they hit 18.

Manfred Weber, Chairman of the Merkel-aligned European People’s Party, says this will give every 18-year-old European the chance to “feel this common European identity”. He echoes endless attempts to fabricate a European identity to overthrow national identities. Like every other attempt, it won’t work, but like some of those efforts, it will likely be popular among the beneficiaries. This brings us to the potentially huge cost.

Extrapolating on Eurostat’s census data, approximately 5,307,120 people turn 18 in Europe in a year. Interrail tickets that cover Europe – as the European Parliament’s promotional materials suggests they must – cost between £188 and £449, depending on how long the trip will be and how many days of it will be spent travelling. Given the numbers turning 18 each year, this means the proposal would cost between £997,738,560 and a staggering £2,382,896,880 per year!

The European Parliament’s willingness to throw so much money away on this ‘free’ Interrail plan – even as Brexit ensures they will have less money to spend – shows how desperate these apparatchiks are to shore-up their creaking project. Billions every year would be spent on what is largely a huge hand-out for middle-class young people to travel across Europe in their holidays and gap year, even as mass unemployment ravages the youth of Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Perhaps the EU thinks another bribe is an answer to Pew Research Centre’s findings that 53% of Europeans now want their own referenda on EU membership? They will find bread and circuses are not enough to distract people from the crippling failings of the Brussels project. Giving every 18-year-old an interrail ticket would not end the migration crisis. Nor would it restore economic health to Southern Europe. Above all, it cannot resolve the internal contradictions of the EU machine, forcing together nations with nothing in common to accept anti-democratic bureaucracy.

While they pursue said bread and circuses, however, Britain must be careful. This bribe will be paid for by the taxpayer – and if the EU can get away with it, the British taxpayer as well! Avoiding footing the bill for such extravagant vanity projects is yet another reason why we must Get Britain Out of the EU as swiftly as possible.

Alexander Fiuza is a Research Executive at cross party grassroots campaign Get Britain Out

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