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EU Introduces Single Driving Licence

Date: 18.12.2006

The European Parliament definitively approved a plan to replace the 110 existing types of driving licences with a single document to be valid across the bloc.

The first new driving licences are to be issued in 2012, to be introduced the following year. They will look like a credit card with a photo and a microchip.

The old types of driving licence are to be recognized not after 2032.

The current types of driving licences are now held by almost 200 million people - which range in shape, size, the length of time they are granted for and the ease with which they can be counterfeited.

"It took a very long time to bring about the European driving license," said Belgian centre-right MEP Mathieu Grosch, as cited by EUobserver. He said he hoped "existing driving licenses will be replaced a lot sooner than the maximum transition of twenty years."

Grosch explained that Germany, Austria and many of the new member states had been against a shorter transition period.

"The Germans are proud of their little grey paper driving license," he explained to journalists in Strasbourg. "For them it's like giving up your soul."

He added many of the new member states had been reluctant about the new EU licence because they had just recently spent the time and money on new licencees.

The new license will contain anti-falsification measures but it has been left up to member states to decide whether to a microchip containing the holder's driving record.

It will be valid for ten years only, with member statesthe option of extending it up to 15 years. Licences for trucks and buses will only have a five-year shelf-life. The time limits were introduced to cut down on fraud.

It is also left up to member states whether they want to introduce regular medical tests for elderly drivers.

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