European Union ministers have agreed to the creation of a European driving licence which will replace the dozens of different types used across the EU.
Jacques Barrot says the cards will make EU travel easier
The credit card-style licence, with photograph and possibly a microchip, will replace national versions.
The EU hopes the scheme will help prevent fraud and improve security.
Subject to final approval, national licences will be phased out between 2012 and 2032. The new ones will have to be replaced every 10 or 15 years.
"The European driving licence is of vital importance for road safety and for the fight against fraud," EU Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot said.
"It will make travel around Europe easier and without bureaucratic difficulties. All drivers will have clear, modern licences that will be accepted in all member states."
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.
Member states would have an option to include a microchip to store information about the driver.
The European Commission and the European Parliament are reported to agree with the compromise, so the law is expected to be passed this year.