16 January 2019
The Irish government has obtained an opt-out from what would have been a requirement for the fingerprinting of all holders of the country's passport card, which can be used as a more convenient alternative to the standard passport book.
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Statewatch published a story last week containing details of a Council document published at the end of October 2018, which foresaw extending a potential new requirement to fingerprint all holders of national identity cards within the EU.
According to that document, the Austrian Presidency of the Council (in place from July-December 2018) wanted to include passport cards within the scope of the proposed Regulation on the security of identity cards and travel documents, because they are issued in the ID-1 format governed by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) rules.
It has now emerged that following further objections by the Irish delegation and an assessment by the Council Legal Service, the country has been afforded an opt-out from the measures.
This comes in the shape of a new recital, 6(c), in the Council's position for negotiations (14360/18, pdf) with the European Parliament:
"Travel documents compliant with International Civil Aviation Organistion (ICAO) Document 9303, part 5 (seventh edition), which do not serve identification purposes in the issuing Member States, should not be considered as falling within the scope of this Regulation."
This rather vague recital will presumably be enough to prevent the fingerprinting of all Irish passport card holders.
However, 15 other Member States will still have to introduce fingerprinting for their national identity card schemes under the Council's and Commission's preferred version of the proposed Regulation: Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden.
Chris Jones, Fingerprints in identity cards: who will oppose an unjustified and unnecessary proposal?, Statewatch Analysis, November 2018 (pdf)
Biometrics in identity cards: the Member States want to fingerprint children, Statewatch News Online, 26 August 2018
Chris Jones, Fingerprints in identity cards: unnecessary and unjustified, Statewatch Analysis, June 2018 (pdf)
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