The Greek government has announced that it will issue new identity cards in line with stricter EU standards.
Alternate Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Toskas said that the technical specifications have been completed and the invitation to EU companies to participate in the tender will be in “a matter of days, not weeks”.
Toskas explained that the issue of the new cards was necessary following an EU decision aiming to improve controls and guard against terrorist and extremist threats.
On Tuesday, the European Commission proposed that identity cards held by EU citizens above the age of 12 will be required to include include biometric data, fingerprints and facial images.
All EU countries except Britain, Ireland and Denmark issue ID cards. However, around 80 million Europeans currently have ID cards without biometric identifiers, and even Ireland offers its citizens the option of a ‘passport card’ containing some of this information.
The European Commission said that it would not oblige countries to introduce ID cards, but those states that do use them would be required to include two pieces of biometric data: an image of two fingerprints and a facial image.
In February, Greek media reported that a delegation from the U.S. arrived in Athens to evaluate Greece’s status on America’s visa-waiver program.
A functioning biometric ID card is thought to be an essential part of allowing Greek travelers to take advantage of the scheme.
It is reported the new cards will cost between €8-10 ($10-12).
Currently Greek ID cards are compulsory for all citizens aged over 12, cost €9 for first issue, are valid for 15 years and are distributed by police.