EU: Compulsary child fingerprinting age for visas lowered to 6 years old

The age at which childrens' fingerprints will be compulsorily taken for visas has been lowered from 12 year olds - as proposed by the Council Presidency in June - to 6 year olds and above under the latest draft of the EU Regulation on Common Consular Instructions (CCI) - this sets the standards for issuing visas to visit the EU under the proposed Regulation on the Visa Information System (VIS) database.

Source: Draft Regulation amending the Common Consular Instructions (CCI) on visas for diplomatic and consular posts in relation to the introduction of biometrics including provisions on the organisation of the reception and processing of visa applications (EU doc no: 13610/06, dated 23 October 2006).

Statewatch coverage: EU: Fingerprinting of children - the debate goes on: Spain taking fingerprints and facial images from children at birth; Czech Republic taking fingerprints from 5 and facial images from birth; Latvia and France in favour of fingerprints from 6 and facial images from birth. EU states will be free to fingerprint children from day one of their life as soon as it is technologically possible: Council Presidency proposed in June 2006 that there should be the compulsory fingerprinting of children from the age of 12 year old.

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"All the discussions by EU governments in the Council about the age at which children should be subject to compulsory fingerprinting to get a visa are based on the technological possibilities - not on the moral and political questions of whether it is right or desirable.

In special cases the taking of fingerprints where a child is "at risk" in order to ensure their safety is necessary. But this does not in any way justify submitting all young children to this intrusive process.

There was a big, and public, debate over the age for taking the fingerprints of children for EURODAC of asylum-seekers and 14 years olds and above was agreed. If it becomes technologically possible to take the fingerprints of children at birth will this become the norm for EU visas, passports and identity cards?"

Visa Information System (VIS): Latest draft of the Regulation showing the original Commission proposal and the current draft Council positions: EU doc no 14359/06, dated 25 October 2006. VIS will become one of the world's biggest fingerprint database growing to an estimated 70 million people in the first ten years. The Commission has adopted an implementing decision which sets out Strasbourg and an Austrian town as sites for the VIS. This follows a decision to place the VIS in the same location as the SIS, and to provide also for the creation of an agency to manage the VIS in future (just like the SIS).

Standing committee of experts on international immigration, refugee and criminal law (Meijers Committee): Note on the recent proposal by the Commission to amend the EC Visa Regulation (pdf) Opinion of the European Data Protection Supervisor, January 2006 and EU Data protection working party criticise proposals on VIS


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