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Infringement procedure against Belgium processed

Wednesday November 21st, 2012

More than three years after the deadline was set for issuing biometric passports with fingerprints, Belgium has still to comply with the requirement.

As a result, the European Commission (EC) has referred the country to the Court of Justice of the EU, requesting Belgium to speed-up the delivery of biometric passports containing the agreed security feature.

Secure travel documents, which the EU citizens can rely on, are one of the building blocks of the Schengen area – the common European area of free and secure movement. It is crucial that all Member States issue compliant passports to guarantee the same level of protection against fraudulent use throughout the EU.

The harmonisation of security features and the integration of biometric identifiers is an important step towards more secure travel documents and better protection of EU citizens from fraud. With the entry into force of Regulation 2252/2004, Member States had until 28 August 2006 to ensure that all passports issued contain a chip with the holder’s facial image and until 28 June 2009 to ensure that this chip also carries the holder’s fingerprints.

Belgium is the only EU Member State that does not currently issue biometric passports with fingerprints to all citizens. The Commission has therefore decided to proceed with the infringement procedure and to refer Belgium to Court for having failed to take all the necessary measures to comply with EU law.

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