“Racism! Yellow star on the chest!” commentators are crying over the new colour scheme for ID cards with blue cards being issued for Finnish citizens and brown ones for foreign residents. For once I think the outcry is unjustified and in fact based on a misunderstanding.
It is understandable that in the current political climate actions like these tend to raise additional attention, but colour-coding of ID cards is nothing new. In fact, I have been possessing a Finnish ID card for about two years. Its beautiful red colour means that its holder is a foreigner and that it cannot be used as a travel document. My Finnish friends have a nice white version of the card that can be used for crossing borders. The reason why I and many others paid 40€ for it is that many stores and institutions require a card with picture and social security number, and this is the best option.
So why are many media outlets reporting that this is a big change? The original press release issued by the police has it right: red foreigner cards will be brown from June onwards. Wow, big deal. Then YLE and Helsingin Sanomat both reported it in a way that made it sound like the colours for foreigners will now start to be different than for citizens…
I for one applaud that Finland is issuing those ID cards to non-citizens at all. Not all countries do that. However, what I would really like to see is a EU-wide ID card that would be the same for all EU citizens. Passports are standardized, why not ID cards?