Standard for EU biometric ID cards one step from approval after passing European Parliament

The European Parliament has voted to introduce minimum common security standards for identity cards and residence documents throughout the EU, in order to make it more difficult for terrorists and other criminals to enter the region. ID cards will include security features aligned with passports, such as a contactless chip and the holder’s photograph and fingerprints for biometric identity verification.

“In the future, all ID cards and residence documents issued in the EU should have the same minimum security standards,” comments Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs, and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos. “This will help us detect and prevent terrorists and criminals from using forged ID cards and from crossing our borders, whilst safeguarding the rights and freedoms of our citizens, including their mobility.”

Member states are free to decide whether to issue ID cards on a mandatory or voluntary basis, or not at all. If they do, however, they must conform to the standard beginning in two years. The move has been anticipated since the EU Council Presidency and European Parliament reached an informal agreement on the topic just over a month ago. An estimated 80 million ID cards in the EU are not machine readable and do not contain biometric data.

“ID cards with stronger security features will allow citizens to travel more smoothly across the EU,” says Commissioner for Justice, Consumers, and Gender Equality Věra Jourová. “It will also guarantee that the ID documents of all countries have the same strong security features, closing any loophole or weak link that terrorists and other criminals could exploit.”

The standards will become an official EU regulation once it is adopted by the European Council.

The EU also recently set the specifications for biometrics to be used in its Entry/Exit System, beginning in 2021.

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