Of the 15,000 free rail passes given to teenagers this summer by the European Commission, a mere 27 were given to disabled people, Yahoo Finance has revealed.
The scheme, called DiscoverEU, aimed to provide thousands of 18-year-olds throughout Europe with free rail basses, the aim of which is to build the “European identity” and allow teenagers to explore the continent of Europe using the Interrail, and hopes this will encourage the European Union to give these passes to all teenagers on their 18th birthday.
It proved to be a hugely popular scheme, with applicants numbering six times the amount of passes. However, the Commission has revealed that only 27 of the 15,000 successful applicants were people with disabilities, meaning only 0.18% went to disabled teenagers.
EU Commissioner for Education, Youth, Culture and Sport Tibor Nacracsics revealed the figures after a written question was submitted by Slovakian MEP Jana Žitňanská, who said she had been repeatedly tried to bring to attention the needs of disabled young people to the Commission.
Speaking to Yahoo Finance UK, Žitňanská said: “I think that this number is shockingly low and among other reasons, I feel like it is also the consequence of lack of the targeted campaign and failure to raise awareness about this program among young people with disabilities.”
The Commission told Yahoo Finance UK that there were 21 applicants with disabilities on the reserve list of 9000, but did not disclose the total number of disabled people who applied for a travel pass.
Christian Wigand told Yahoo that “not many people with disabilities applied,” but that they hope more awareness is brought to the scheme and that disabled people will apply in the second round which begins this autumn.
Image: b_k_k_b/FlickrGet your copy of UNITE Magazine