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European Commission takes Belgium to court of biometric passports


More than three years after the deadline was set for issuing biometric passports with fingerprints, Belgium still fails to comply with this requirement. As a result, the European Commission has referred the country to the Court of Justice of the EU, requesting that Belgium expedite the delivery of these biometric passports.

This regulation applies to all EU member-states, except the UK and Ireland, as well as the associated Schengen Area members and this point, Belgium is the only EU Member State that has failed to comply. Secure travel documents are a building block of the Schengen area – the common European area of free and secure movement. It is crucial that Member States issue compliant passports in order to ensure the same level of protection against fraudulent use throughout the EU.

The harmonization of security features and the integration of biometric identifiers is an important step towards more secure travel documents and better protection of EU citizens from fraud. With the entry into force of Regulation 2252/2204, Member States had until 28 August 2006 to ensure that all passports issued contained a chip with the holder’s facial image and had until June 2009 to ensure that this chip also carried the holder’s fingerprints.

While some steps have been made by Belgian authorities, full implementation of biometric passports containing the fingerprints of the holder is not foreseen before autumn 2013.

BiometricUpdate.com’s most recent Biometric Research Note focuses on government eID programs and suggests systematic processes are needed to implement new programs as new challenges evolve in issuance, usability and accuracy.

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