Biometric Passports and ID Cards - Ukraine

Having finally got around to the core issue of Stage 1 relating to the road map on Visa-free travel as per the document from the EU, the RADA has passed the necessary laws for biometric passports and identified the company that will produce them.

Just how technically good the new law is remains to be seen - amendments to poorly written laws are not exactly unusual with any Ukrainian government.

The company is EDAPS.  That is about all that can be said about the company as nobody outside very select circles  knows who actually owns it, despite it winning numerous government contracts over the years under various governments.  All that is definitely known is that those who own it are no longer living in Ukraine and its parliamentary representative (and lobbying point) is MP Hrytsak.

Obviously a transparent tender and procurement model was deemed unnecessary - again!

Anyway, the point of this post is not to raise further procurement shenanigans, quite simply as if I do there is really nowhere to go with it without knowing who actually owns EDAPS - and I don’t.

Nevertheless, new biometric passports are required by the EU for the Visa-free road map will be produced from 1 January 2013.  The cost will be about $55 which considering the cost of a UK biometric passport is very small indeed - especially when considering how many Ukrainian citizens will want an international passport compared to how many UK citizens want and have them.  There is therefore an obvious question about the profitability for EDAPS with less demand from less citizens for less money, or is the UK simply ripping off the UK citizen?

If the money isn’t going to be in the international passports, where are the profits going to come from?

Also in the new law is a requirement for ID Cards to replace the internal passports of Ukrainians as they expire.  The law also anticipates using said card for driving licenses, sailor ID cards, social security cards - and most importantly as far as I am concerned, those with migrant cards (Permanent Residency).

Now the internal cards will not cost the Ukrainian people directly as the international passport does.  The new cards will be paid for by the government at a projected fee of $8 per person.

Rough mathematics would suggest that EDAPS will therefore get approximately $320 million from Ukraine over the next 10 years or so from internal government funded ID cards - Now that then becomes a far more attractive proposition.

So the question then is are the new internal biometric ID cards necessary?

Well, many EU nations have national ID Cards.  In some nations they must be carried compulsorily and in others not.  I come from an EU nation where national ID cards simply don’t exist at all.

Thus there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to the EU nations and EU norms.

However, there does exist the Schengen ID Card system of nationally produced, EU approved ID cards for internal movement within the Schengen area without the need for a nationally issued international passport.  If Ukraine ever entered the Schengen agreement, government paid for national ID cards would possibly allow for Schengen wide travel without the need for a Ukrainian to buy an international passport.

There are also quite obvious advantages and disadvantages to a “one card does all” system of identification which I won’t bother to list - the point being if Ukraine is changing the ID system, should it consider whether an internal ID system is even appropriate anymore whether by internal passport or ID card?

However, most important is the issue of biometric passports, as it is a step in the right direction as far as the EU Visa-free road map is concerned - and also a necessary one for government egos considering Moldova has moved to Stage 2 of its Visa-free EU road map, whilst Ukraine remains mired in Stage 1 issues - and coming behind the butt of all Ukrainian jokes (Moldova) will never do for the egos of the elite!