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Parliamentary questions
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4 February 2015
E-007417/2014(ASW)
Answer given by Mr Avramopoulos on behalf of the Commission
Question reference: E-007417/2014

What is commonly called an ‘EU passport’ is in fact a national passport established under the national laws of the Member States and issued to their citizens. Under EC law(1) only the security features and the biometric identifiers included in the passport chip have been harmonised on a legal basis relating to the Schengen acquis on crossing the external borders.

The current format of the EU passport contains common features on which Member States have agreed in non-binding resolutions(2) such as for example paper size, the burgundy coloured cover, similar typeface for name and the use of the words ‘European Union’ in the country's official language on the cover. This can be seen as contributing to citizens' identification with the EU and raising their awareness about their common status as EU citizens.

Before the Lisbon Treaty, EU competence in the area of free movement of citizens relating to passports and identity cards was restricted to one aspect: ensuring that Member States issue their own citizens with either passports or identity cards(3). Article 18(3) of the EC Treaty explicitly precluded any other EU competence.

Today, Article 77(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union authorises the Council, acting unanimously in accordance with a special legislative procedure after consulting the Parliament, to adopt provisions concerning passports, identity cards, residence permits or any other such document if action by the EU should prove necessary to facilitate the exercise of the right of EU citizens to move and reside freely within the EU.

The Commission currently does not have plans to make any proposal on a European passport.

(1)Council Regulation (EC) No 2252/2004 of 13.12.2004 on standards for security features and biometrics in passports and travel documents issued by Member States; OJ L 385, 29.12.2004, p. 1‐6 — as amended.
(2)23.6.1981 — Resolution of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States of the European Communities, meeting within the Council of 23 June 1981, OJ C 241, 19.9.1981 p. 1 — 7.
(3)Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29.4.2004 on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States amending Regulation (EEC) No 1612/68 and repealing Directives 64/221/EEC, 68/360/EEC, 72/194/EEC, 73/148/EEC, 75/34/EEC, 75/35/EEC, 90/364/EEC, 90/365/EEC and 93/96/EEC; OJ L 158, 30.4.2004, p. 77‐123.

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