Better ID card security to curb document fraud

Un carte d'identité dans la borne automatique de contrôle eGate

© European Union , 2014 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photo: Patricia De Melo Moreira

This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.


Civil Liberties Committee MEPs agreed on common security features for EU identity documents to reduce identity fraud.

Ensuring that identity documents are tamper- and fraud-proof is a key element in the fight against terrorism and organised crime. Currently the security features in ID cards, as well as residence documents issued to EU nationals and/or their family members, vary significantly across EU countries. This increases the risk of documents being falsified and of identity fraud, which are increasingly big problems in the EU.

Civil Liberties Committee MEPs propose tackling this issue by:

  • Setting common minimum security features across the EU for ID cards set out by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO); additionally, the cards should be blue and contain the EU flag;
  • Making a facial image stored on a chip in the card mandatory for citizens’ ID cards; in addition, member states could include two fingerprints on the chip; strong safeguards would apply to the collection and use of this data;
  • Phasing out previous formats of ID cards within eight years; cards that are not machine-readable and thus less secure would be phased out within five years.

Only member states already issuing ID cards to their nationals would be affected by the new rules. The measures would not make it compulsory to own an ID card or oblige member states to introduce ID cards. The changes follow a similar approach to that taken already by the EU for the security features of passports.

Quote

Rapporteur Gérard Deprez (ALDE, BE) said: “The purpose of this proposal is not only to fight against document fraud but also, and above all, to facilitate the exercise of the right to move freely within the EU by making ID documents in the EU more reliable and more widely accepted. In addition to their national identity, citizens have what could be called a “European citizenship” that gives them protection and rights. That is why I proposed in my report to make all ID cards blue and to include the EU flag on cards.”

Next steps

The draft report was approved by 32 to 7, with 3 abstentions. The committee also approved a mandate to start informal talks with the Council, which can start as soon as Parliament as a whole gives its green light.

Background information

Currently, there are at least 86 different versions of identity cards and 181 types of residence documents in circulation in the EU. Of twenty-six EU member states that issue identity cards to their nationals, identity card ownership is compulsory in 15 member states.

The total number of people detected with fraudulent documents, including ID cards, either entering or exiting the EU, or in transit, increased by around 16% from 2013 to 2015. Identity theft is estimated to cost 2 billion euros per year at EU level.

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