EU Council, Parliament reach agreement on biometric ID cards

EU members will stop issuing old ID cards two years after the rules are adopted, and old cards will become invalid after 10 years

Romanian Minister of Internal Affairs Carmen Daniela Dan

The EU Council Presidency and European Parliament have reached a provisional agreement on the introduction of mandatory biometric national identity cards, which will include a photo and two fingerprints. This comes shortly after the European Commission estimated that around 80m Europeans had ID cards without biometric data which were, in addition, not machine readable.

The regulation now is aimed at changing that number by applying new standards to identity cards for EU citizens and residence documents of EU citizens and their non-EU family members. Under the proposed new rules, ID cards will have to be produced in a uniform, credit card format (ID-1), include a machine-readable zone, and follow the minimum security standards set out by ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation). They will also need to include a photo and two fingerprints of the cardholder, stored in a digital format, on a contactless chip. ID cards will indicate the country code of the member state issuing them, inside an EU flag.

The new ID cards will also have a minimum period of validity of 5 years and a maximum period of validity of 10 years, with Member States allowed to issue ID cards with a longer validity for persons aged 70 and above.

“Security throughout the EU can only be achieved by ensuring security in each member state. The new rules on security standards for ID documents will allow us to more easily detect document fraud and identity theft, making it harder for terrorists and criminals to act, while facilitating free movement of genuine travelers,” Romanian Minister of Internal Affairs Carmen Daniela Dan said, adding that the informal agreement will go to the EU ambassadors for confirmation on behalf of the Council.

Meanwhile, EU ambassadors this week have also confirmed a previous agreement to amend the regional bloc’s visa rules, moving it a step closer to implementing the new rules. According to news wires, the EU is upgrading the Visa Information System (VIS) - which is currently used to hold information on all applicants for short-stay Schengen visas - to now include information on long-stay visas and residence documents; to enforce mandatory biometrics in long-stay visas (currently a national competence); and to include the fingerprints of children from the age of six and up. All visa applicants will also be profiled.

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