Tag Archives: EU Commission

Awards recognise outstanding achievements in secure ID documentation systems

Special awards have been made to those newly introduced personal ID document programmes that have demonstrated outstanding technical sophistication and the best in verification system infrastructure.

The Regional ID Document of the Year Awards form part of the industry’s High Security Printing EMEA Conference held recently in Malta and recognise the highest levels of achievement among Government passport and national identity card schemes.

Awards were made in three categories: Best New Passport, Best New National ID Card and Best New ID or Travel Document.  

The first award went to the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Home Affairs of Tanzania for the new Tanzanian ePassport. Tanzania recently moved from a machine-readable booklet to the phased implementation of a complete electronic immigration (or ‘eImmigration’) system. The passport is one component of a complete ‘end-to-end’ system solution to support citizen enrolment, adjudication, personalisation, issuance and authentication along with border control and eVisa systems.

IDAwardsTanzaniaPassport

The new ePassport features a polycarbonate data page incorporating laser engraving technology, an optically variable feature and positive and negative embossing incorporating an MLI lens. The data page also carries an ICAO-compliant secure RFID microcontroller chip and operating system.

Other notable security printing features include end papers with duplex patterns and rainbow-split duct printing, as well as two colour intaglio printing incorporating a latent image and an optically variable print feature. Other features include the use of both visible and invisible inks, a Foredge registration feature and hidden page identifiers.

One of the benefits of the new ePassport solution is that the holder can have an emergency passport on their smart phone if their passport is stolen or lost in another country.

Best New National ID Card

In the Best New National ID Card category, the award went to the Police and Border Guard Board of Estonia, itself part of the Ministry of the Interior, for the new eID programme introduced in December last year.

IDAwardsEstonia

The new cards use Estonia’s own font and elements of its national brand and feature a colour photograph, a transparent window and an invisible secondary photograph that will only appear when viewed from an angle. One new detail is the inclusion of a QR code which will make it easier to check the validity of the ID card.

The new eID card integrates a chip that allows contactless use in the future once service providers start offering corresponding solutions (validating public transport trips, for example). The chip on the new card carries embedded files and uses 2048-bit public key encryption, allowing its use as definitive proof of ID in an electronic environment.

Best New ID or Travel Document

The final award, recognising the Best New ID and Travel Document, went to Germany’s Bundeskriminalamt, the Federal Criminal Police Office and Bundesdruckerei, the country’s state printer, for the new EU Visa sticker project.

As part of the EU Commission’s Action Plan to strengthen the EU response to travel document fraud, all European Union Member States will be introducing the new EU visa sticker. The project was a result of the collective work under the EU Article 6 Committee and associated sub-group on the development of an improved uniform format visa.

IDAwardsGermany

The new EU sticker integrates improved chemical sensitisers, high level security background design, completely re-designed DOVID with improved features, improved intaglio inks and latent images, rip cuts and advanced UV elements.

Upgrade and secure personalisation

The sticker also has a ‘quiet zone’ reserved for a 2D barcode in order to upgrade and secure the personalisation of the sticker, which is seen as a good next step to incorporate digital security into the security document world.

The development project incorporates the distribution of a Best Practice Visa Kit and Technical Specification for 31 EU Member and Associate States. The Visa Kit and Technical Specification will also be used as Best Practice for the basis of the subsequent eResidence Permit Card Project.

*Further details of the High Security Printing EMEA Regional ID awards are available online here

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Europe is the world’s top tourist destination… but are tourists safe?

Worldwide, tourist travel is on the rise. Indeed, international tourism actually dwarfs any other type of leisure business in terms of growth. One of the global regions benefiting the most from this trend is Europe: the world’s first tourism destination.

Central to the dynamism of European tourism is accommodation: hotels, B&Bs and online-rented space, but due to a loose legislative framework for safety, which is rapidly becoming obsolete as our habits as tourists evolve, hotels might also become European tourism’s Achilles’ heel.

Of all the dangers posed to a tourist’s safety in a European hotel, fire remains the biggest. Currently, the legal basis on the matter is a 1986 EU Council Recommendation on fire safety in hotels. Since EU Recommendations are, by their very nature, non-binding legal acts, this has resulted in mainly localised and incomplete measures. Fast forward 30 years later, and it’s clear that the Recommendation has had limited effect on hotel safety in Europe: a fact acknowledged by hotel federations and consumer associations alike.

The main issue is that local self-regulation resulting from the EU Recommendation hasn’t guaranteed an even level of safety across the EU. Enforcement varies considerably from country to country, and even from city to city, including in the same region, and largely depends on the size of the hotel. All-too-often, small hotels are less well scrutinised, and somewhat more ill-equipped than bigger ones to deal with fires. Local laws frequently link the number of rooms with compliance to the Recommendation.

Global trends

An analysis of global trends in tourism shows that, as our tourist habits evolve, the risk resulting from the current situation increases: more and more travellers choose to go ‘off the map’ opting for smaller hotels rather than big chains. This new type of tourist also tends to visit exactly those countries where safety in hotels is less controlled.

Add to this the relatively unregulated development of increasingly popular online ‘homestay’ networks, such as Airbnb, and you have a flammable cocktail. The situation seems to be calling for a fast reaction.

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The most recent attempt to initiate binding legislation on tourism accommodation safety arose in October 2015. A Resolution of the European Parliament called for a consistent European approach around risks related to fire. Reactions to the Resolution from various Brussels-based influencers highlighted a novel situation. All parties involved – ie consumer associations, hotel federations and Euralarm, the European Trade Association representing the electronic fire and security industry – now seem to agree that a legally binding EU Directive would be the right solution to address the issue.

Industry-led survey

Unfortunately, the initiative derailed due to a lack of reliable supporting data. The exact level of risk existing for the flows of tourists travelling to and inside Europe remains a question mark.

Outside of empirical observations, statistics on safety in tourism are notoriously hard to come by, with reputational issues hampering self-reporting. An EU Commission-initiated data collection programme launched in 2008 resulted in a blatant failure.

The focus now is on a survey led by the industry, rather than the EU. Among others, Euralarm has asserted its readiness to help with new data collection efforts. The organisation has also offered to provide support and expertise to the EU Institutions and the CEN-CENELEC European standardisation platform for the development of the relevant legislation and necessary standards needed to improve fire safety in hotels.

Progress in European legislation and standardisation is often slow unless the issue makes it to the news headlines. In 2004, after a number of tunnel fires with resulting casualties, the EU Commission was forced to publish a Directive on tunnel fire safety. Should we wait any further before adopting a Directive on tourism accommodation safety?

Time to act

Any failure to act quickly could lead to another cost for Europe. As tourism is now more globalised than ever, competition becomes fiercer, and parts of the world with more stringent and well-established regulations for safety in tourism accommodation might hold a key advantage.

In the United States for example, a Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act has been in place since 1990. Potential future incidents resulting from poor regulation could hit Europe’s tourism industry particularly hard. Its reputation as a safe destination has already taken a blow due to recent terrorist attacks.

Tourism is one of the engines of the European economy and an important source of jobs. Eurostat reports that one-in-ten non-financial enterprises in Europe belong to the tourism industries, and that these 2.2 million enterprises employ an estimated 12 million people. That’s more than one-in-five of individuals employed across the services sector.

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