European Union ministers are expected to agree on the details of an EU driving licence next Monday.
The UK introduced credit card-style licences in 1998
The credit-card style licence, with photograph and possibly a microchip, would replace dozens of different licences used in the 25 member states.
Until last week, ministers could not agree on how often the licence would be renewed, but they have now agreed it should be every 10 or 15 years.
National driving licences would be phased out between 2012 and 2032.
Diplomatic sources in Brussels say the measure is likely to be adopted without discussion on Monday, now that agreement has been reached on the key points.
The European Commission and the European Parliament are reported to agree with the compromise, so the law is expected to be passed this year.
A spokesman for the UK's Department for Transport said Britain was keen on the measure, because it would help British police know whether licences held by drivers from other European states were valid.
"The UK has been pretty much leading the field," he said.
"What we want is for police to be able to see that someone has an entitlement to drive here, has not been disqualified, and does not jeopardise this country's very good safety record."
Some EU countries currently issue driving licences for life.
Germany and Austria were reluctant to agree to a licence that had to be regularly renewed.
But German Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee has been quoted as saying that the agreement to let countries choose whether to issue licences for 10 or for five years provides "a good middle way between a boost to security and bureaucracy".
Member states would have an option to include a microchip to store information about the driver.