European Parliament: children under twelve
won't have to give fingerprints for Biometric
Biometric visas, like biometric passports, should improve security provided the fingerprints they
include are reliable. Children under twelve will be exempted from the requirement to provide
fingerprints, as MEPs wished, following an agreement, negotiated by Sarah Ludford (ALDE, UK)
with the Council and adopted by the European Parliament.
The European Visa Information System (VIS) is intended to facilitate the procedure for issuing
visas while preventing "visa shopping" that is simultaneous applications for visas in more than
one EU country. For the system to work well, common consular instructions are needed to
ensure that all Member States issue visas on the same basis and that the visas contain the
The European Parliament adopted a recommendation approving a Council common position, as
negotiated with rapporteur Sarah LUDFORD (ADLE, UK). The VIS infrastructure, which is now
being set up, will run technical tests from October this year, and should be operational in 2010
in Member states consular authorities in North Africa, and later on in other regions.
The purpose of biometric features - a photograph and ten fingerprints, as recommended by the
International Civil Aviation Organization - is to enable the identity of visa applicants to be verified
and to establish a reliable link between visa holders and their passports so as to prevent the use
of false identities.
Exemption for children under twelve
During negotiations with the Council, MEPs successfully argued for children under twelve to be
exempted from the requirement to give their fingerprints. At present there is no available large
scale study that documents the reliability of juvenile fingerprinting. MEPs insisted on a prudent
minimum age limit in order to ensure that the biometrics are reliable for the VIS to work as
intended. On 14 January this year, the European Parliament voted for a similar exempt