MEPs pave way for single EU driving licence

A single European driving licence, valid for a maximum of 15 years, looks set to replace the multitude of licences currently valid in member states.

The Parliament’s Transport Committee adopted, on 22 November 2006, a second reading report providing for the replacement of more than 110 different models of driving licences currently circulating in EU countries with a single plastic credit-card-like permit. 

The new Community licence aims to help reduce fraud and improve road safety, by limiting the validity of the licence to a maximum of 15 years. 

Mathieu Grosch (EPP-ED), the Belgian rapporteur on this dossier, explains: “A single European driving license will do away with the outmoded practice of handing out driving licenses for life, as is still the case in Belgium, France, Austria and Germany. Identification and controls will therefore become easier, and fraud such as ‘driving license tourism’, will be ruled out.” Indeed, under the new rules drivers banned in one member state would be banned in all member states. 

Motorcyclists however are angered by what they term “pointless and bureaucratic legislation [that] will cause real problems for motorcycle enthusiasts” by setting much stricter conditions for obtaining permits for more powerful and heavier motorbikes. Rather than allowing for progressive access to more powerful motorcycles after appropriate experience is gained, the Directive establishes an additional test for drivers moving from a lower powered bike to a more powerful one. But Mathieu Grosch reminded: “Motorcycles are 16 times more often involved in road accidents than car drivers.” 

The Directive will face its last hurdle in December when it must be approved by the Parliament as a whole. Member states will have to start issuing the new format by 2013, but will have up to 2039 to ensure that it replaces every licence in circulation. 

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