Rules of the DiscoverEU contest
DiscoverEU is an action of the Erasmus+ programme (2021-2027). It aims at offering young people aged 18 years old a travel experience that will foster their sense of belonging to the European Union, allow them to explore the diversity of Europe, its cultural heritage and history, connect with people from all over the continent and ultimately discover themselves.
In autumn 2023, the European Commission and the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA), are going to select at least 35 000 young people meeting the eligibility criteria described below. Young people can apply on the European Youth Portal. The application period will be open from 4 October 2023 at 12:00:00 (midday Brussels time) to 18 October 2023 at 12:00:00 (midday Brussels time).
The European Commission and EACEA will provide the successful young people with travel passes to explore Europe between 1 March 2024 and 31 May 2025 for a maximum period of one month.
Awarded applicants will, as a basic rule, travel by rail. However, to ensure the widest possible access, the action offers alternative transport modes as ferries and coaches when necessary and takes into account environmental, time and distance considerations.
In exceptional cases, and when no other transportation means are available, young people will be offered travel by plane. This will ensure that young people living in remote areas or on islands also have a chance to take part in DiscoverEU.
The awarded participants will also be granted a European Youth Card (EYCA). This card will be available for activation in the dedicated DiscoverEU Travel App, accessible to participants after completing the booking process. The card is valid for 1 year after its activation and will grant young people discounts for visits and activities in culture, learning, nature, sports, local transportation, accommodation, food, etc.
2. Eligible applicants
To be eligible, applicants must be:
- 18 years old on 1 January 2024, i.e. those young people born between 1 January 2005 (included) and 31 December 2005 (included);
- be citizen or resident of one of:
- the 27 Member States of the European Union including its outermost regions (French Guiana (FR), Guadeloupe (FR), Martinique (FR), la Réunion (FR), Mayotte (FR), Saint-Martin (FR), Azores (PT), Madeira (PT) and Canary Islands (ES)), or;
- the third countries associated to the Erasmus+ programme: Iceland, Liechtenstein, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, and Türkiye or;
- citizen of one of the 27 Member States of the European Union as well as resident in one of the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) associated with the European Union: Aruba (NL), Bonaire (NL), Curação (NL), French Polynesia (FR), French Southern and Antarctic Territories (FR), Greenland (DK), New Caledonia (FR), Saba (NL), Saint Barthélemy (FR), Sint Eustatius (NL), Sint Maarten (NL), Saint Pierre et Miquelon (FR), Wallis et Futuna Islands (FR).
- fill their correct identity card (ID) or passport number or resident permit number in the online application form.
If awarded, selected applicants can only travel if they:
- start their journey in any of the countries eligible for DiscoverEU (see above) at the time of the selection decision;
- plan to travel between 1 day and up to one month inclusive;
- plan to travel to at least one foreign country eligible for DiscoverEU (see above) at the time of the selection decision;
- are willing to become DiscoverEU Ambassadors.
Any applicant not fulfilling the eligibility criteria will not be taken into consideration in the selection process.
3. Application procedure
The DiscoverEU application round is open through a specific online application form on the European Youth Portal. It will not be possible to submit an application before or after the application period indicated under point 1.
There are 7 steps in this application procedure:
- The applicants will first have to pass an eligibility check, which implies that they will be requested to fill in their date of birth, nationality and residence. If the data do not comply with the eligibility rules mentioned under point 2 ‘Eligible applicants’, then they will not be able to proceed with the next step. Additionally, they will also be asked to agree to the rules of the DiscoverEU contest, to agree that their personal data will be stored and processed for the purpose of the DiscoverEU contest, and that they agree to be contacted in relation to DiscoverEU by the European Commission and organisations authorised by the European Commission for the same purpose, as well as EACEA, the Erasmus+ National Agencies and Eurodesk.
- The applicants will have to indicate whether they want to travel alone, or in a group of maximum 5 people.
- The applicants will have to provide a valid email address. Once done, they will receive an automatic email from the European Youth Portal in order to verify if the email address is valid. This verification is needed given that communication with the applicants after selection will be done by email. By asking the applicants to confirm their email address, the European Commission and EACEA is preventing unauthorised usage of the email addresses by other people.
- After validation of their email address, young people have to fill in the application form. First, they will have to give their personal data: nationality, date of birth, first name, last name, gender, email address, phone number, country of residence, region, occupation and national identity card (ID) or passport or residence card number. Young people with reduced mobility and/or disabilities will have the possibility to indicate their specific needs.
- Once they have filled in their personal data, all applicants have to answer a quiz of 5 multiple-choice questions on general knowledge about the European Union and on other European Union initiatives targeting young people. Finally, they are requested to answer a subsidiary question. Applicants will be selected up to the available budget and ranked following the correctness and timing of their replies.
- Applicants are asked to give additional information on their travel plans (i.e. when they plan to start their journey, whether it is the first time that they will be travelling alone without their parents, what they would like to learn from this experience, how they will finance costs like accommodation, subsistence, basic insurance, etc. during their travel and how they found out about DiscoverEU). The information entered in that section is not binding and will not have any impact on the selection process. Data collected will be used for statistical purposes and as information for the European Commission and EACEA with a view to improve DiscoverEU.
- All applicants will receive a confirmation by email through the European Youth Portal, once they have submitted their application. This email will inform them about their application registration and it will include the application code and the timetable for the communication of the selection decision.
Everyone will receive a code upon submission of the application form. Applicants should keep this application code for any further communication. If an applicant wants to invite people to join his/her group, he/she becomes a group leader and he/she will have to communicate the code to the other members of the group to allow their registration. Based on the code provided by the group leader, the other group members will have to register online, and fill in their personal data.
Please note that group members do not have to participate in the quiz and subsidiary question, as only the group leader will have to complete the quiz and the subsidiary question. However, they still need to fill in their personal data in order to validate their application. Group members need to fulfil the same eligibility criteria: to be 18 years old and to be resident in one of the Member States of the European Union or one of the third countries associated to the Erasmus+ programme: Iceland, Liechtenstein, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, and Türkiye. If applicants have indicated that they want to travel alone, they can still add friends to their application after submission and before the final deadline, following the same procedure mentioned above.
A group application will be assessed as one single application. Only those group members who have filled in the application form by using the code provided by the group leader will be taken into consideration for the selection. Group members shall not register individually.
Groups can be composed of people from different nationalities living in different locations.
Only one application per person may be submitted. The first application registered in the European Youth Portal will be the only one considered in the selection process. Individuals may not apply in different groups. If at any stage, multiple applications are detected, only the first application registered in the European Youth Portal will be considered.
Young people who were selected for a DiscoverEU travel pass under any of the previous application rounds are not eligible to submit a second application. This will be detected at submission stage. If at any stage during the implementation of the action, applications from young people who were granted a DiscoverEU travel pass under one of the last application rounds are detected, either by the contractor designated by the European Commission and EACEA to take care of the travel bookings or by the European Commission and EACEA itself, the applicant will be disqualified.
4. Selection process and selection criteria
There is a quota of travel passes set for each country. The allocation principle is based on the Erasmus+ Programme, key action 1, individual mobility “youth” distribution key.
The selection process will be carried out based on the residence indicated by the applicant on the application form. In case there are less applications than the fixed country quota, the remaining travel passes will be re-distributed among the applicants residing in countries with more applicants than the fixed quotas.
The residence of the group leader will determine the residence to be taken into consideration for the quota calculation. If a group comes last in the list of selected applicants per country and the quota for that country is reached, the whole group will be selected.
Applicants will first have to pass the eligibility criteria check, i.e. an eligible date of birth and eligible residence as mentioned under points 2 and 3. Please note that this will automatically be assessed during the application, and data provided will be double-checked after the selection by the contractor designated by the European Commission and EACEA to take care of the travel bookings. If, by checking their identity card (ID), passport and/or the residence permit, the contractor detects that the applicant has made a false declaration, he/she will be excluded from the contest.
If all eligibility criteria are fulfilled, the applicants will then have to fulfil the selection criteria, i.e. provide the correct replies to the 5 multiple-choice questions and answer a subsidiary question. In case of groups, only the group leader will have to answer the 5 quiz questions and the subsidiary question.
Applicants will be grouped by residence and ranked according to the correct replies to the 5 quiz questions, and then according to the reply to the subsidiary question.
After the closure of the application period, the results will be extracted from the European Youth Portal and sent to the members of the selection committee for their final assessment.
If there are too many applications (individual or groups) that are ranked equally at the cut-off point imposed by the fixed quota, the European Commission and EACEA will apply the “first come first served” principle to determine the last places.
5. Selection committee
A selection committee composed of staff of the European Commission and EACEA will meet at the end of the application round. They will look at the selection results on the basis of the criteria set out above. They will assess and conclude on the final ranking of the selected applicants who will be selected for the travel passes based on their replies to the quiz and to the subsidiary question, taking into account a quota per country, and if applicable the submission time. Once the selection is made, a reserve list will be established. Applicants on the reserve list might be selected for travel passes in case of non-allocated remaining budget or when selected applicants renounce to or do not activate their travel passes (see point 7).
Based on the assessment of the selection committee, EACEA will adopt the selection decision with information on the total amount of travel passes selected, the total budget being allocated to the travel passes, the list of the selected applicants and the reserve list.
6. Notification of results
At the end of the selection process, applicants will receive a notification via email stating whether:
- they have been selected as beneficiary ('selected applicants') or
- they have not been selected and have been put on a reserve list
Once the selected applicants have been notified, the lists will be sent to the contractor designated by the European Commission and EACEA, which will take care of the travel bookings. Further communication will then be established between this contractor and the selected applicants. More information can be found under point 8.
Applicants will also be able to verify on the European Youth Portal whether they have been selected or not by using their application code.
7. Reserve list
Non-selected applicants will be placed on a reserve list in descending order of their ranking according to their replies to the quiz and the subsidiary question. The European Commission and EACEA may award travel passes to applicants placed on the reserve list in the following cases: selected applicants withdraw their application or selected candidates do not activate their travel pass within the deadline mentioned in point 8, or if the value of the travel passes selected is lower than the available budget. This mechanism can be applied, up to the complete use of the available budget. Budget consumption will be reviewed on a monthly basis.
Inclusion on the reserve list does not create any entitlement vis-à-vis the European Commission nor to EACEA and does not guarantee to be selected at a later stage.
Candidates on the reserve list can be contacted by the contractor designated by the European Commission and EACEA to arrange the travel bookings with an invitation to register on the booking platform. Those contacted, due to being on the reserve list, cannot claim reimbursement for travels made prior to the invitation, nor request an extension of the travel period.
8. Booking of travel tickets and rules for travelling
The selected applicants shall start their journey in a country which is part of DiscoverEU (see point 2 – Eligible applicants) and travel to at least one country, which is also part of DiscoverEU and which is different from the country of departure. The overall trip can last from a minimum of 1 day to a maximum of 1 month inclusive. The trip should fall within the period 1 March 2024 and 31 May 2025. The travel pass can be used in their residency country only for one outbound and one inbound travel.
Travel passes for the selected applicants will be booked, purchased and delivered by the contractor designated by the European Commission and EACEA. Selected applicants should not, under any circumstances, book passes by themselves or via a travel agency. Passes purchased directly by the selected applicants shall not be reimbursed.
The contractor designated by the European Commission and EACEA will contact the selected applicants and give them access to a mobile application, the DiscoverEU Travel App. This app will provide access to support and will give suggestions for participants to design their itineraries and prepare their travel. In the mobile application, a digital discount card (European Youth Card) will be available to all the participants.
Selected applicants can choose when to activate the European Youth Card in the app (according to when they travel) and the card is then valid for 1 year from that moment.
This card will give access to a range of discounts and benefits all over the Erasmus+ programme countries. Discount cards purchased directly by selected participants shall not be reimbursed.
The contractor will choose the most competitive and suitable transport operators.
As a basic rule, the selected applicants will have the choice between the 2 following travel options:
Flexible travel option
Fixed travel option
The dates on which the selected applicants can travel remain flexible until the travel pass and selected travel days have been activated by the applicant.
Selected applicants will communicate to the contractor their desired travel itinerary with fixed travel days and times and pre-defined destinations. The travel dates and destinations cannot be modified once the fixed ticket has been booked. Travel should take place in a period of up to one month.
Selected applicants will be able to travel over a period of maximum one month, with a set number of travel days (7). This means that they can travel on trains on any 7 days within an overall period of maximum 1 month. The flexible travel option allows the selected applicants to travel to as many eligible countries as they want.
Selected applicants will be able to visit up to 2 countries which are part of the European Union or third countries associated to the Erasmus+ programme (see point 2) at the time of the selection decision (this does not include their country of departure and the crossed countries) over a period of maximum one month.
Once the travel pass is activated, selected applicants can travel on consecutive days, or they can spread their 7 travel days out over the period of one month. They are allowed to travel on trains operated by European railway companies as well as on some ferries and other means of transport selected by the contractor designated by the European Commission and EACEA. Please note that certain trains may require or propose a seat reservation. The cost of seat reservations is not included in the Flexible Travel Pass. No reimbursement for seat reservations or other costs encountered during the journey will be covered by the European Commission or EACEA.
All reservation costs are included in the fixed travel option, but there is an overall budget limit of EUR 273.35 that needs to be respected. Selected applicants should make sure that their itinerary is feasible.
For the flexible travel option:
The participants of the selected list that choose the flexible travel option will have a deadline until 31 March 2024 to activate their travel pass. After the activation of the travel pass, the travel days can still be modified until the end of the travel period (i.e. 01/03/2024 – 31/05/2025), if needed.
If participants do not activate the travel pass within the deadline, the travel pass may be cancelled and offered to applicants from the reserve list.
*Travel Pass Activation: in the DiscoverEU Travel app, you will need to verify your passport, ID or residence card and to schedule the 1-month Pass validity period. Be aware that the EYCA Card Activation in the Travel App does not mean that the Travel Pass itself is activated.
**Travel days: the set number of days of actual travel over the one-month period of validity of the Flexible travel pass.
For both options:
Cancellations of the itineraries are not supported. No supplements or other costs encountered during the journey will be covered by the European Commission or EACEA.
Selected applicants who want to travel to Cyprus, Iceland, Ireland or Malta should inform the contractor after the launch of a special call to all selected and booked participants. The quota mentioned in the "Quota per country section" on the European Youth Portal will be applied for those travelling from Cyprus, Iceland, Ireland and Malta. A maximum of three times this quota will be applied for the selected applicants who want to travel to Cyprus, Iceland, Ireland and Malta. The flight tickets to these specific destinations will be booked based on a “first come first served” basis. The selected applicants should not purchase these tickets themselves.
A derogation to the travelling period requirement will be applied for young people living in a country that is part of the European Union or third countries associated to the Erasmus+ programme (see point 2) with compulsory civil or military service. In this case, the travel period will be extended to 6 months after the end of their legal duties.
9. Transportation means
Selected applicants will, as a basic rule, travel by rail. However, to ensure the widest possible access, DiscoverEU should offer alternative transport modes as ferries and coaches when necessary, and taking into account environmental, time and distance considerations. Travel will be in 2nd class.
Only in special cases, the option of travelling by plane may be allowed and will be organised for the selected applicants. This is the case for those young people residing:
- In the nine outermost regions (i.e. Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, la Réunion, Mayotte, Saint-Martin, Madeira, Azores and Canary Islands);
- In the EU Overseas Countries and Territories (Aruba, Bonaire, Curação, French Polynesia, Greenland, New Caledonia, Saba, Saint Barthélemy, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten, Saint Pierre et Miquelon, Wallis et Futuna)
- In countries/regions which are not accessible by the previous mentioned transportation means (rail networks, ferry and coaches);
- When young people have to travel more than 18 hours via land or sea transport before crossing the closest border of their residency country.
Only their inbound and outbound travel can be a flight. For the remainder of their travel, participants are required to travel under the basic rule (rail or other alternative transport means).
Young people from the outermost regions and Overseas Countries and Territories can choose any destination matching the set requirements. Selected applicants who would like to travel to the outermost regions and OCTs are able to do this, if their journey fits within the budget limitation of EUR 273.35.
Selected applicants who are either resident in Cyprus, Iceland, Ireland or Malta can travel by plane to mainland Europe (the return ticket will be organised for them).
10. Maximum value of the travel tickets
The selected applicants shall only receive the travel passes and the European Youth Card. Accommodation, subsistence, insurance, travel supplements or any other expenses related to the travel shall be covered by the selected applicants themselves.
The basic rule is that each selected participant will be entitled to a travel pass worth EUR 273.35. Travel will only be in 2nd or economy class. However, this amount can be higher in the specific cases below:
- For selected applicants travelling from the EU's outermost regions and the Overseas Countries and Territories to mainland Europe. Once on the European mainland, the basic rule applies.
- For selected applicants outside the above-mentioned geographical zones who have to travel by plane to mainland Europe. Once on the European mainland, the basic rule applies.
- In some specific situations to be assessed on a case-by-case basis (e.g. for selected applicants residing in other islands part of the Erasmus+ Programme countries) an extra journey by train/ferry/coach, might be covered.
For selected applicants with reduced mobility and/or special needs: costs of special assistance (accompanying person, dog for visually impaired selected applicants etc.) might be covered, based on the appropriate documents for justifying their special needs, as required under the national law of the residence country.
11. Indicative timetable
Opening date of registration
4 October 2023 at 12:00:00 (midday Brussels time)
Closing date of registration
18 October 2023 at 12:00:00 (midday Brussels time)
Notification of selection
First departure date
1 March 2024
Last return date
31 May 2025
12. Withdrawal and cancellation of the travel by the selected participant
Each travel pass will be nominative and cannot be transferred to another person. The name on the travel pass cannot be changed.
A selected participant needs to activate his/her travel pass before the deadline of 31 March 2024. If the travel pass is not activated by that date, the contractor designated by the European Commission and EACEA, may cancel the pass and reallocate it to another participant on the reserve list in descending order of the ranking.
If a selected participant declines for whatever reasons before the contractor, designated by the European Commission and EACEA, has booked the travel pass, his/her place will be given to someone else from the reserve list in descending order of the selection. Selected applicants are invited to inform the contractor before anything is booked.
If a member of a group (group leader or group member) renounces to travel before the European Commission's and EACEA's contractor has booked the travel pass, this renunciation will not jeopardise the whole group. The remaining group members can still travel as planned. However, the person who renounced cannot be replaced. The spare travel pass will be attributed to a person from the reserve list in descending order of the selection.
It is accepted that some members of a group eventually decide to travel on an individual basis, and this will not affect the whole group.
The travel pass is non-exchangeable and non-refundable. The flexible pass offers an open start date, giving travellers the possibility to change the date any time before the date indicated as first travel day.
For the fixed travel options, cancellations and/or modifications are subject to the carrier terms and conditions; fees should be supported by applicants.
13. Force majeure
In case a travel is interrupted due to unforeseeable exceptional situations or events beyond the participant's control and not attributable to error or negligence on his/her part, a new travel pass can be awarded. The European Commission and the EACEA’s contractor will assess those particular situations on a case-by-case basis.
14. Reporting back on the travel
The European Commission would like to hear back from the selected applicants and will encourage the young DiscoverEU travellers to share their experiences and adventures. Once selected, the selected applicants will become DiscoverEU Ambassadors of the action. They are invited to report back on their travel experiences, for example through social media or by providing a presentation at their school or at their local community. The DiscoverEU travel app will allow to create a customised map of the travel itinerary with statistics (such as number of trains taken, number of countries visited and CO2 savings).This can then be shared and posted on social media at the end of the travel.
The applicants are welcome to join the #DiscoverEU Official Facebook Group. Young travellers will also need to report back in an online survey sent out by the contractor of the European Commission and EACEA after their travelling period. On its completion, travellers will receive a certificate of participation generated automatically and highlighting competences and skills gained thanks to their travel experience.
Depending on your citizenship and your planned travel itinerary (non-Schengen area), participants may need one or more visa. Delivery of visa is a competence of the States. We advise participants to inform themselves at official sources and launch their requests well in advance. Visa delivery can take several weeks. The DiscoverEU travel app and its helpdesk will provide assistance in this regard. In any case, it is the participants’ responsibility to have their documents ready before they travel.
The European Commission, EACEA and the contractor are not in a position to influence the decisions of national authorities concerning visa.
The issuing costs of the visa will be covered by DiscoverEU.
When health insurance is a mandatory requirement for obtaining a visa, it will be provided by the contractor. The related costs will be covered by DiscoverEU.
The selected applicants are advised to acquire appropriate health and travel insurance for the whole duration of the travel. Basic health insurance coverage is usually provided by the participant's national health insurance during his/her travel through the European Health Insurance Card.
However, the coverage of the European Health Insurance Card or private health insurance may not include all possible cases, especially if repatriation or specific medical intervention is needed. In those cases, a complementary insurance is advisable.
The European Commission, EACEA and its contractor will only provide for the travel passes, the European Youth Card, and where applicable the visa issuing costs as explained above. Therefore, accommodation, subsistence, basic insurance, travel supplements or any other expenses related to the travel shall be covered by the selected applicants themselves.
The European Commission, EACEA and its contractor, shall not be held liable for any damage caused or sustained by any of the selected applicants in the contest, including any damage caused to or by third parties as a consequence of or during the implementation of the subsidised activities.
The European Commission, EACEA and its contractor shall not be held liable for any material, non-material or physical damage suffered by the selected applicants or those accompanying them in the course of their journey or during their stay.
The desired travel is subject to constraints related to budget, time and passes availability. Therefore, it can be subject to change, and the external contractor designated by the European Commission and EACEA cannot guarantee that the desired travel can be accomplished.
The selected applicants are advised to acquire appropriate health and travel insurance for the whole duration of the travel. Basic health insurance coverage is usually provided by the participant's national health insurance during his/her DiscoverEU travel through the European Health Insurance Card. However, the coverage of the European Health Insurance Card or private health insurance may not include all possible cases, especially if repatriation or specific medical intervention is needed. In those cases, a complementary insurance is advisable.
The European Commission and EACEA reserves the right to modify the rules set up under points 10 and 11 in case of exceptional circumstances.
18. Applicable law
This contest is governed by EU law. The Court of Justice of the European Union shall have sole jurisdiction to hear any dispute between the Union and any beneficiary concerning the interpretation, application or validity of the rules of this contest, if such dispute cannot be settled amicably.
19. Data protection
Data requested will only be used to select applicants, enabling to book the travel tickets and provide them with services associated to DiscoverEU like the DiscoverEU Learning Cycle or DiscoverEU promotion campaigns. The participant can in this case be contacted by the European Commission and organisations authorised by the European Commission as well as EACEA, Erasmus+ National Agencies and Eurodesk.
Any personal data will be processed by the European Commission and EACEA under the Regulation (EU) 2018/1725 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2018 (repealing Regulation (EC) No 45/2001) and according to the ‘notifications of the processing operations’ to the Data Protection Officer (DPO) of the European Commission (publicly accessible in the DPO register). Such data will be processed by the "data controllers" of the European Commission and EACEA for the purposes of the contest, implementation and follow-up or protecting the financial interests of the EU.
The Privacy Statement for DiscoverEU explains to applicants the way in which the action uses the personal data and the way in which the privacy of this data is being protected. The Privacy Statement for DiscoverEU can be found at the following link: https://europa.eu/youth/privacy_en.
The applicants have the right to have recourse at any time to the European Data Protection Supervisor.
A complaint form will be available on the website of the contractor designated by the European Commission and EACEA to arrange the travel bookings. Selected applicants will be informed about this possibility when booking their passes.