eKathimerini — After years of delays, Greek authorities are edging closer to upgrading citizens’ identity cards, so that they meet higher international security standards.
According to sources, a tender is to be announced in the coming days and government officials will subsequently launch talks with representatives of seven or eight companies that have expressed an interest in producing the new ID cards.
Greek authorities are accelerating the process ahead of the anticipated arrival in Athens this month of a delegation from the US Department of Homeland Security, which is to assess the extent of Greece’s enforcement of Washington’s visa waiver program (VWP).
The scheme allows citizens of 38 countries, including Greece, to travel to the US without a visa.
Although both Greek and US officials have dissociated the VWP from Greek identity cards, the failure of Greek authorities to replace the current cards with new ones bearing biometric data on a microchip is an issue of concern for Washington.
As a member-state of the European Union, Greece has been obliged since 2000 to upgrade its ID cards but has yet to overhaul the current system.
The cost of upgrading existing ID cards is estimated at around 80 million euros.