On top of the ongoing refugee crisis and the terrorist attacks in Europe last year, the United States is adding pressure on Greece to improve the security of its identity cards, which should include microchip and biometric data, or be faced with bringing back the visa for Greek travelers.
The US is calling on the Greek government to replace current cards with new biometric credit card-sized IDs within the coming months. The issue was discussed with US authorities last year as well as with Barak Obama on his recent visit to Athens, with the date for final replacement set for April 2017.
The upgrade of the current ID cards is estimated at costing more than 80 million euros, which however due to the economic crisis cannot be covered by the Greek state so each citizen will be required to pay 10 euros for the upgrade of his/her ID.
According to local officials, even if Greek parliament were to vote on the decision, an open tender must be announced which may take as long as 15 months to be finalized. In that time, the US government will have to decide whether Greece remains in its visa waiver program allowing free travel to the US for Greek nationals.
Greece is the only EU country that has not issued biometric ID cards.