The committee’s rapporteur on the file, Gérard Deprez, an ALDE MEP from Belgium, suggested that standardised blue or blue and yellow cards could be introduced, incorporating the European flag.
The European Union has a problem with fake documents, the committee heard, and many member states allow their citizens to travel using ID cards rather than passports. ID cards are much easier to forge, the committee was told.
Speaking about the proposal, Deprez said: “The purpose is not only to fight against document fraud but also, and above all, to facilitate the exercise of the right to move freely within the EU by making ID documents in the EU more reliable and more widely accepted.”
The committee has proposed that the new card should contain a facial image and two fingerprints on an electronic chip and be phased in over 5 to 8 years.
Roger Casale, founder and CEO of New Europeans, a group which campaigns for citizens’ rights, told this website, “An EU citizenship card is a good idea and sits well with our proposal for a green card to guarantee the rights of EU27 citizens in the UK and Britons in Europe post-Brexit.”
The former UK Labour MP added, “A parallel process could be used to introduce the green card for Europe, the difference being that the green card would be issued directly by the [European] Commission whereas the blue cards would be issued to their citizens by EU member states.”
Many EU27 citizens living in the UK only have ID cards, not passports, to prove their identity and there are currently 86 different identity cards and 181 versions of residence documents in circulation in the EU.
“The purpose is not only to fight against document fraud but also, and above all, to facilitate the exercise of the right to move freely within the EU by making ID documents in the EU more reliable and more widely accepted” Gérard Deprez
The committee was told that without a microchip in the card, many EU27 citizens face the prospect of having to hand in their ID cards for verification purposes when they apply for settled status.
MEPs heard that it may take months to confirm the identity of EU27 citizens who do not have a passport in addition to their ID card.
Casale said this could cause problems, adding, “Meanwhile, that person will be trapped in the UK and may face discrimination in the search for housing or employment.”
He said New Europeans had raised this concern with the UK Home Office.
Casale added, “From the perspective of the citizen, digitally- secure cards are an increasingly valuable way of guaranteeing legal status and the rights that go with that status.”
“The green card for Europe is not an ID card, but in combination with the new blue EU citizenship cards recommended by the civil liberties committee, it can be a powerful tool in stabilising the situation of 3.4 million EU27 citizens in Britain if the UK leaves the EU.”
“British citizens in the EU would use the green card in combination with their UK passports to show that they had moved to an EU member state prior to the end of the transition period for Britain’s withdrawal from the EU and were therefore entitled to the same rights and status as when the UK was still an EU member state,” he added.
Meanwhile, Romania’s permanent representative to the EU, Luminita Odobescu, told a briefing in Brussels on Tuesday that combating terrorism will be a priority for the Romanian presidency of the EU.
The country takes over at the EU helm from 1 January and Odobescu said that a “safer Europe” will be one of the objectives of the six-month presidency, including combating online terrorist content and radicalisation.
Her comments come after the recent terrorist attack in Strasbourg that killed five people.