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The European Commission has agreed measures to make it easier for national authorities to issue national level driver’s licenses, with the aim of enabling EU citizens to travel to the US.
Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said on Friday the measures are “essential for the full enjoyment by all EU citizens of the highest level of security and safety”.
A number of countries have already issued national-level driver’s licenses for drivers, but as the Commission now allows for the issuance of European ones, it means “more and more EU citizens can travel to the US,” Ms Bulc said.
Citizens of the UK can now renew their UK-issued license online, and there are already plans to begin accepting EU-issued licenses for US applications.
The new EU-issued IDs may also make it easier for US citizens who are planning to leave their state to apply for US driver’s licenses from their home state, to bypass the usual visa process which takes several months.
EU citizenship would also encourage “the United States to work harder to help EU citizens move to the United States” as a more desirable destination, the Commission said.
While issuing an EU license for travel to the US has been a long-standing aspiration of the EU, it will also help promote and protect the rights of EU citizens in their home states, as they can “simply travel back and forth to the US,” Ms Bulc said.
“This will strengthen the EU’s standing as the global leader on trade. It will also help the US to attract more investment and tourism; it will strengthen our ability to collaborate in global trade; it will enable us to more effectively tackle crime and terrorism,” she said.
In addition to the national-level licenses, authorities are required to carry a special national ID Card issued by the State Department’s Bureau for Consular Affairs that can be used at the border on US soil to prove identity.
However, the new measures have been criticised by the US consulate general in Brussels, who described the measures as “insanity”, and the EU Commission responded that while it was a good idea to move forward, it needed to be applied in a way “compensatory to the existing issues”.
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