Rahul left a great question in one of the Flophouse Blue Card updates. He had noticed that Germany is issuing new work permits and he wanted to know if this was the Blue Card. I replied that I didn't think so but I did notice that my new French residency card was very different from my old one. I speculated that the new format in both countries might be the result of an EU directive. Rahul came right back with this link and said, yes, indeed, it is the EU behind all this.
So what is the EU directive that is driving this new format? It all goes back to Council Regulation No 1030/2002 passed in 2002 and amended in 2008 which requires member-states to conform to a uniform format with biometric identifiers for residence permits for third-country nationals. Europa says:
Biometric * identifiers are used in the residence permits to verify the authenticity of the document and the identity of the third-country national in question. The identifiers consist of a facial image (photograph) and two fingerprints, which will be processed according to national practices and respecting the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The technical specifications for the collection of biometric identifiers are adopted in compliance with the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and based on the technical specifications for issuing national passports as provided by Regulation (EC) No 2252/2004.Oddly enough Europa says that some categories of migrants are exempt from this regulation: family members of EU citizens "exercising their right to free movement" or nationals of countries that are exempt from visa requirements.
A quick sweep of the web shows that many EU countries are implementing: Luxembourg, Belgium, France, Netherlands and others. The sites I looked at said that while May 1 was the deadline for implementation, many countries were simply not ready. The note I found on the Web from the French Ministry of the Interior said that they were waiting on the deployment of a new version of an application called AGDREF (Application de gestion des ressortissants étrangers en France). I infer from the lovely card I have in my hand that it has indeed been successfully deployed.
So there you have it. Many thanks to Rahul for the question and the link.