SNP MEP Ian Hudghton has called for safeguards to ensure plans for a common EU driving license are not turned into an EU Identity Card scheme by default. The European Parliament is due to vote on the plans next week (Thursday 14 December).

The SNP President said that overall the proposals should be supported as a way of improving road safety and stamping out so-call 'driving license tourism' where people convicted of driving offences in one country can get a new license in another. But he called on governments to build safeguards into the scheme to guard against identity fraud and protect personal data.

Mr Hudghton - a member of the European Parliament's Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee - said:

"Improving road safety is in all our interests, and that's why I consider these proposals worthy of support. But there must be safeguards, and we must guard against the introduction of a single European ID Card by stealth.

"If these plans get through, as I believe they will, then from 2013 there will be a common credit card style format for driving licenses in Europe, with a chip containing relevant information.

"At the moment, there are more than a hundred different types of license. Hopefully, this will help prevent people who've been banned from driving in one country getting a license somewhere else.

"It will be up to the governments of the EU's member states to implement this scheme and I call upon them to make sure this doesn't turn into an EU ID Card by default.

"If this scheme does what it's been developed to do then Europe's roads should be safer for all of us. The challenge will be to improve road safety without infringing civil liberties."

Notes:

The European Parliament will vote at second reading on Thursday 14 December on proposals for 'Driving licenses: issue, validity and renewal'.

The scheme would introduce a standard EU wide format for driving licenses from 2013, replacing the more that 110 different styles of license currently in use.

It also contains provisions for common standards for driving instructors, for 'progressive access' to motorcycles (i.e. riders have to start on bikes with smaller engines) and would introduce a compulsory theory test for moped drivers across the EU.

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