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C 110 E/10 Official Journal of the European Union EN 8.5.

2003

(2003/C 110 E/010) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1068/02


by Glyn Ford (PSE) to the Commission

(17 April 2002)

Subject: Passports, biometric data and data protection

Are there any proposals to amend the format of passports issued by the Member States of the EU so that
they include biometric data such as fingerprints, retinal patterns, etc?

What amendments to data protection legislation, if any, would be necessary to enable passports to be
amended to include such data?

Joint answer
to Written Questions E-1066/02, E-1067/02 and E-1068/02
given by Mr Vitorino on behalf of the Commission

(11 June 2002)

In the Commission’s working programme for 2000/2001, it was envisaged that the Commission would
present a legislative proposal rendering travel documents more secure in particular the passport. However
the question of an appropriate legal basis arose, because of an amendment introduced to Article 18 of the
EC Treaty through the Treaty of Nice. In conformity with Resolution of the representatives of the
governments of the Member States of 17 October 2000 (1), Member States have introduced or intend to
introduce new security standards in the most recent ‘EU’ travel documents, respecting International Civil
Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards, comprising, inter alia, the use of optically variable devices (OVD)
and machine-readable features.

Regarding the relations with the United States, the Commission can provide the following information:
Following the adoption of the so-called ‘Patriot Act’, essentially two requests are of concern for the Union’s
Member States:

(a) Countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program shall issue passports that are ‘tamper-resistant and
incorporate biometric identifiers that comply with applicable biometric identifiers standards
established by the International Civil Aviation Organisation’.
The Commission understands there are no ICAO standards as yet on appropriate biometric data,
except for the photograph. Of course, this question is also relevant for United States (US) passports.
The US Administration is now investigating the use of biometrics (in particular facial recognition and
fingerprints) for their own passports and will report to the Congress in October 2002. The
Commission will follow closely the outcome of this investigation and any developments on which
biometric data will be chosen for use in US passports.

(b) Travellers from countries on the Visa Waiver Program must be in possession of passports, which are
machine-readable as from October 1, 2003. Nevertheless, under certain circumstances, the Secretary
of State can waive this requirement for countries, which are making progress towards issuing
machine-readable passports.
The most recent passports issued by Union’s Member States are machine-readable. A problem could
arise for bearers of old-format passports, which are not machine-readable. Member States might be
compelled to accelerate the issuing of new passports to all their citizens, unless the US administration
uses its power to waive this requirement until the validity of the old-style passports runs out.

(c) Nevertheless some changes are introduced by the ‘Enhanced Border Security and visa entry reform Act’
of 2002 (version as enrolled on 8 May 2002) on and after October 26, 2004, any alien applying for
admission under the visa waiver program under section 217 of the Immigration and Nationality Act
shall present a passport that meets the requirements for tamper-resistance and incorporates biometric
and document authentication identifiers that comply with applicable biometric and document
identifying standards established by ICAO, unless the aliens passport was issued prior to that date.
8.5.2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 110 E/11

Finally, as regards data protection, the Directive 95/46/EC of 24.10.95 (2) on the protection of individuals
with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data is applicable.

(1) OJ C 310, 20.10.2000.


(2) OJ L 281, 23.11.1995.

(2003/C 110 E/011) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1129/02


by Erik Meijer (GUE/NGL) to the Commission
(22 April 2002)

Subject: The lack of openness and comparability in the financial management of subsidies in the various
Euregio areas

1. Is the Commission aware of the report by the Netherlands Court of Auditors complaining that the
management of subsidies for the seven Euregio regions covering the border areas between the Netherlands,
Belgium and Germany cannot be properly audited because accountants working on behalf of the public
authorities in one Member State cannot check what is happening with regard to financial management in
that part of the region concerned which is situated in another Member State?

2. Why is it that no integrated checks have yet been introduced, with access to information for all the
parties concerned, so that it is impossible to find out whether the partners on the other side of the border
manage their money in a different way?

3. Has this state of affairs in the Euregio regions, where cooperation, but not the checks on that
cooperation, is carried out on a cross-border basis, contributed thus far to the controversial or non-
transparent management of financial resources for infrastructure and employment areas, for example?

4. Is the Commission prepared to take measures to ensure that financial auditing is carried out in each
Euregio region in such a way that all the information is made public and is comparable, so that doubts as
to the effectiveness and lawfulness of financial management can be dispelled?

Answer given by Mr Barnier on behalf of the Commission


(10 June 2002)

The Commission has taken note of the report by the Netherlands Court of Auditors. That document has
been discussed within the monitoring committee ‘Stuurgroep Euregio Maas-Rijn’ but the Commission has
not yet been informed of the outcome of this discussion.

Article 11 of Commission Regulation (EC) No 2064/1997 (1) for the 1994-1999 programming period and
article 19 of Commission Regulation (EC) No 438/2001 (2) for the 2000-2006 programming period
provide for common arrangements, to be followed by the Member States within Interreg programmes, that
ensure sound financial management, taking account of national law. As the Structural Funds are
implemented by the Member States, it is their responsibility to put in place adequate financial and control
systems to meet the requirements of the Regulations. Member States are free to determine their procedures
to this end.

The Commission is not of the opinion that control procedures applied have seriously jeopardised the
effectiveness of controls or the proper selection and implementation of projects.

The objectives of the programmes and correctness of their implementation will be met if Member States
comply with the regulatory requirements.

(1) Commission Regulation (EC) No 2064/97 of 15 October 1997 establishing detailed arrangements for the
implementation of Council Regulation (EEC) No 4253/88 as regards the financial control by Member States of
operations co-financed by the Structural Funds, OJ L 290, 23.10.1997.
(2) Commission Regulation (EC) No 438/2001 of 2 March 2001 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of
Council Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999 as regards the management and control systems for assistance granted
under the Structural Funds, OJ L 63, 3.3.2001.