EU: Finger-printing children for visas, EU passports and travel documents

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The Council of the European Union (the 27 governments) and the European Parliament are currently in co-decision negotiations over the content on which includes the issue at what age should children be finger-printed for the issuing of visas. The Council is proposing children of 6 years of age and above while the European Parliament wants it to be 12 years of age and above: EU doc no: 6067/1/08 REV 1 (the document contains a useful chart comparing the positions of the Council, Commission and European Parliament, pdf).

In a different, but complementary Council fora, the SCIFA/Mixed Committee is discussing the same issue not just for visas but also for all EU passports and travel documents (ie: resident third country nationals, Schengen ID cards): EU doc no: 6138/08 In this high-level Working Party the Council Presidency notes that while there is a "majority" of governments in favour of 6 years and above three governments - Czech Republic, France and Portugal - think it would be "possible" to take:

"fingerprints even for children below the age of 6 years"

While two governments - Germany and Austria - support the 12 years old and above proposal from the parliament.

The Council Presidency is proposing that it should be decided whether each government should be able to decide its own limits - some would be 12 years, some 6 years and some at birth?

"It needs also to be decided if member States should be allowed to collect fingerprints of children under the age of 6 on the basis of the national

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"It is to be hoped that the European Parliament will not budge on this issue. EU governments have been discussing this issue as a technological one, at what age is it possible to take reliable fingerprints from children, when it is a moral and political question.

This comes in parallel with the Commission's idea that peoples' visas, passports and travel documents, including those of children, will be processed in an enclosed box by machines. What kind of Europe are we heading for?"

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