Today the European Parliament agreed by 335 votes for to 269 against (with 21 abstentions) to introduce uniform pan-EU rules on identity cards - there are currently more than 250 different versions of identity cards and residence permits in circulation in the EU, a situation that Gérard Deprez, ALDE MEP (Belgium), European Parliament, described in a press statement as: "totally unsatisfactory!"
Deprez went on to describe freedom of movement of citizens in a secure European area as a core value of the European Union. The various ID types were described as making recognition difficult in some countries, and many of these documents are described as insecure; some do not even have a chip, which it was noted, facilitates identity fraud by terrorists and criminals.
A uniform format will include, the same identity elements, in the same order, a European symbol and optional mention of gender. It will incorporate "a highly secure chip with two biometric identifiers ( facial image and two fingerprints)."
All these elements combined are intended to facilitate the free movement of EU citizens, reduce administrative hassle and strengthen the internal security of the Union. Deprez stressed that: "...this regulation does not allow for the creation of a European biometric database and provides no legal basis for creating one at national level.
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. 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 percent from 2013 to 2015.