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EU moves closer to requiring biometrics on national ID cards


The EU Council Presidency and European Parliament have reached an informal agreement on the introduction of mandatory biometric national identity cards including a photo and two fingerprints.

The regulation applies new standards to identity cards for EU citizens and residence documents of EU citizens and their non-EU family members, and will go to the EU ambassadors for confirmation on behalf of the Council. EU members will stop issuing old ID cards two years after the rules are adopted, and old cards will become invalid after 10 years, if they have not already expired, though some exceptions are made for elderly citizens.

Cards will have to be made in a uniform ID-1 format, with a machine-readable zone, following ICAO minimum security standards, a contactless chip, and the issuing member state’s country code. When the biometric ID card requirement was proposed, the European Commission estimated that 80 million Europeans had ID cards without biometric data and that were not machine readable.

“Security throughout the EU can only be achieved by ensuring security in each member state,” says Romanian Minister of Internal Affairs Carmen Daniela Dan. “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.”

The EU ambassadors have also confirmed a previous agreement to amend the regional bloc’s visa rules, moving it a step closer to implementing new rules requiring biometric registration of long-stay visa and permanent resident holders.

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