Michel Malherbe, the spokesman of the Belgian Foreign Ministry, clarifies Belgium's decision: "Following the 9/11 attacks there were calls for identity checks that were watertight. All we are doing is the implementation of a European Union decision. In time all European passports will include this security feature."
In a later stage airports will be equipped with electronic equipment allowing passengers to identify themselves automatically.
The introduction of the new security feature will happen gradually. Only people applying for a new passport will have to provide a finger print at their local town hall.
400,000 Belgian passports are faulty
In a separate development it has emerged that 400,000 Belgian passports are unusable because a plastic leaf comes loose. The passports display a production fault.
The Foreign Ministry plans to replace the passports at no cost to the holder.
In recent months a number of Belgian travellers have experienced problems at border crossing across the world. The Foreign Ministry says that it is yet to receive a first claim for compensation from the holder of a faulty Belgian passport whose trip went up the spout.