Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

ID cards will allow police to arrest people for trivial offences

Daily Telegraph - April 12th 2004

SIR

Marc Glendening asserts (letter, Apr 6) that there is an EU scheme to harmonise ID cards throughout the European Union. I regret that this is not the case. The European Commission is confining itself to establishing uniform biometric identifiers to be held by member states for EU passports and for visas and residence permits granted to those from outside the EU. When the EU enlarges in May, many eastern Europeans will travel to Britain with a right to enter using ID cards as travel documents. Our police and immigration authorities will be unfamiliar with the many different formats of ID card in foreign languages. With an EU standard-issue ID card, it would be possible for British authorities instantly to check on a computer database the status of all holders. All passports everywhere are subject by international convention to standard machine-readable content and the use of English in the descriptors.

In modern Europe, where there is now mass movement of people, not having ID cards is no longer sustainable. I have possessed a Belgium ID card since being elected to the European Parliament, and have never been asked to produce it inappropriately. Belgium is no less a democracy for having such cards. In the modern world, with our security threatened, identity cards are a small price to pay to enable the state to adequately protect its citizens.

Charles Tannock MEP
Conservative Foreign Affairs Spokesman
European Parliament
Brussels