The EC has kicked off a drive for data sharing amongst member countries' police forces in an effort to track down drivers who commit motoring offences in foreign countries.
The EC wants to punish drivers who speed, drink-drive, don't wear a seatbelt, or fail to stop at a red light whether they are in their home country or abroad. Currently, most foreign motorists escape punishment because law enforcement authorities in the local country cannot trace them, and in any case can't enforce the penalty.
The Commission's clampdown is based on the construction of a new network to transfer data on traffic offenders between Member States. It would work thus - the country where the offence has been committed sends the vehicle registration number and the nature of the offence to the drivers' own country. If they can't identify the country involved, the information will be sent to all 27 EU states.
When a country receives information that one of their citizens has caused an offence, it will write to them, giving details of how to pay the fine and how to appeal if the driver thinks it's unjust. There will be no wriggling out using the 'I wasn't driving' defence, as the driver will have to name the person who was driving at the time.
The plan needs approval from the EU Council, Transport Ministers and MEPs. It will become law one year after it formally gains their support, and would become operational within another year. So it's unlikely any system will be in place before the end of the decade.
Drivers will no doubt be concerned over the privacy of their information. Although the EC will oversee the scheme, it told El Reg it won't get involved in policing data protection, which will instead be the responsibility of member states. Some states are distinctly better than others in respecting individuals' data, especially when it comes to people who don't actually live there.
Privacy campaigners may also be concerned that the pan-European project might provide the foundation for a wider information-sharing network for the police, but the Commission denied this would be the case. "I doubt it," a spokesperson said. "That would be mission creep."