The Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament has given its go-ahead to a draft legislation requiring the facial image and 10 fingerprints from Schengen visa applicants, said the parliament in a press release on Wednesday.
At the same time, committee members voted for a number of exemptions for children and diplomats as well as for stricter data protection. Under the committee’s first-reading amendments, children below the age of 12 will be exempted from giving fingerprints. Children will also be allowed to send scanned photographs so they do not have to appear in person at the consulate. Holders of diplomatic passports will also be exempted from the providing photographs and fingerprints, known as biometric identifiers. In order to avoid all Schengen member states having to install the necessary equipment for collecting photos and fingerprints in every consular office, the legislation allows member states to cooperate with one or more countries in the creation of a joint center in each country to deal with visa applications and the collection of biometrics.
For security and data protection reasons, the committee added several amendments to ensure that cooperation with external service providers in the collection of fingerprints and photos is used only “as a last resort.” If this work is outsourced, consular officials will have to supervise the service provider and the member state concerned will be liable for any breaches of strict data protection rules by that provider. (people.com.cn)