Am slightly bothered as to why, during the many debates and articles on ID cards, no one has seen fit to mention the EU angle of them.
The EU is currently in the process of harmonising the format of ID cards including the biometric details stored on them. Don't believe me? Look at this then [PDF]:
2. Biographical data
The ID-card shall be machine-readable in compliance with Part 3 Volume 1 of ICAO Document 93031 ("Size 1 and Size 2 Machine Readable Official Travel Documents") and the way they are issued shall comply with the specifications for machine-readable cards set out therein.
The portrait of the holder shall not be affixed but integrated into the material of the front side of the card by the issuing techniques referred to in Section 5.
[from Council Document 15th november 2006 15356/06 JAI 598]
The EU is not actually forcing the UK to adopt ID cards, because this Labour government signed up to the measures at EU level. However, signing up does make them committed to their introduction.
Also, as Open Europe point out, it makes it very difficult for political parties who are opposed to ID cards, but want to remain in the European Union, to scrap the proposals if by the next election, the harmonisation process is very advanced.
Another thing which is so typical of the EU is the way they are going about it. I recall reading the European Parliament legislation on this, and having also read the council document and proposals, they are not going about it in a legislative way. No, because that would require Parliamentary scrutiny and then the press might report it (although I can see both the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives being incredibly quiet about that one for fear of embarrassment)and then someone might say something unkind about the beloved EU!
No, softly, softly, catchy monkey is the attitiude. Let's all just lay down the minimum requirements so we all have the same ID cards which can be read in all our little machines and then once national law makes it all proper and above board, and thoroughly like 1984, we will have our way without anyone blaming the EU.
How about that, eh?