Single driving licence for EU citizens by 2012
27.03.2006 - 17:52 CET | By Helena Spongenberg
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - A new common driving licence for the EU was approved by transport ministers on Monday (27 March) in a bid to fight fraud and raise road safety across the 25-member bloc.
The new driving licence is to be implemented by member states by 2012 at the latest, and will replace the 110 EU driving licence systems in place today
) – including one dating from the German Democratic Republic, which reunited with Germany in 1989.
"We needed this new updated system," EU Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot told reporters.
"The European driving licence is of vital importance for road safety and for the fight against fraud. It will make travel around Europe easier and without bureaucratic difficulties," Mr Barrot said in a statement.
The agreement is part of a fight against "driving licence tourism" where persons from one country who have lost their driving licence due to a serious offence can move to another EU state and easily get a new licence.
The new document will have the form of a credit card with a regularly updated photo and some anti-falsification measures - possibly a microchip.
As part of the new scheme, licenses for mopeds and motorcycles will also be standardised, with licenses for mopeds only available after an obligatory theoretical test.
EU citizens under 24 will not be able to obtain a driving licence for heavy motorcycles unless they have two years of experience on lighter types, while anyone wanting to have a motorcycle licence will have to do so progressively for the more powerful bikes.
Although the number of fatal road accidents has fallen in Europe, the number of fatalities among motorcyclists has increased in the last few years.
"I think it is only right and proper that we reacted on that," Austrian transport Minister Hubert Gorbach said following the transport meeting.
For his part, Mr Barrot indicated he would like to see member states adopting a system of cooperation where "anybody who has committed an offence, regardless of nationality, can be appropriately punished."
Months of negotiation
Monday’s agreement comes after months of wrangling over the details of the legislation - criticised mainly by Germany and Austria.
Berlin had objected to the new driving licence being valid for only ten years, resulting in national capitals now being able to choose between licenses that last for ten or fifteen years.
Member states will also have the freedom to decide whether or not to have medical checks at each renewal.
The new EU driving licence directive has the informal backing of both the European Commission and the European Parliament, which should secure its speedy adoption.
The old types of driving licence are expected to completely disappear by around 2032. [
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