State of play for ID cards in Europe

By EDRi · September 8, 2010

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [Personalausweise in Europa |]

A new analysis was made public by Statewatch based on the answers to a
questionnaire regarding the “state of play concerning electronic
identity cards” in the EU Member States and countries that are members of
the so-called “Mixed Committee” that is part of Schengen (Iceland,
Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).

The 23 replies to the questionnaire show that:
– 17 countries make it mandatory for their citizens to have an ID card,
four do not;
– 13 countries issue traditional ID cards, eight issue cards containing
contact and/or RFID chips, two countries do not issue ID cards (Norway, UK).

Of the eight countries that issue electronic ID cards with the capacity to
store biometric data, six have chosen to do so (Belgium, Italy, Lithuania,
Portugal, Spain and Sweden). Lithuania, Portugal and Spain store
biometric data centrally, while Italy has a decentralised system.

After the biometrics is already introduced by the Council of the European
Union in Visas, resident third country nationals and the EU passports, now
the national ID cards are on the table, claiming their scope as travel
documents within the Schengen Area.

The questionnaire had no questions regarding privacy issues and only one
dealing indirectly with security issues (Did you detect any altered or
forged data storage device in any identity card?).

Statewatch concludes that “This is the start of a process of ‘soft-law
making’ over which the European and national parliaments have no say”,
considering that the Council might adopt Conclusions of the national ID
cards, that the EU members states will use to take joint common actions.

Statewatch Briefing: ID Cards in the EU: Current state of play (09.2010)

EU Council – Questionnaire (26.03.2010)

EU Council – Answers to Questionnaire
State of play concerning the electronic identity cards in the EU Member
States (31.05.2010)