The European Commission announced its plans for the European Digital Identity wallets, a technology that would allow EU citizens, residents, and businesses to prove their identity and share documents across the bloc with the click of a button. The platform can be used to authenticate citizens’ access to online services and very large online private platforms will be required to accept it upon the request of the user.
The Commission considers this a very important step in European integration. “The European digital identity will enable us to do in any Member State as we do at home without any extra cost and fewer hurdles. Be that renting a flat or opening a bank account outside of our home country. And do this in a way that is secure and transparent. So that we will decide how much information we wish to share about ourselves, with whom, and for what purpose. This is a unique opportunity to take us all further into experiencing what it means to live in Europe, and to be European” said Margrethe Vestager Executive Vice-President for Europe Fit for the Digital Age.
The European Digital Identity framework
With this new regulation, each Member State will be responsible for providing their citizens and business digital wallets linked to their national digital identities. These digital wallets will carry all sorts of proof and documentation of their identities, such as driving licenses, diplomas, bank accounts, and other credentials.
The Digital Wallet will be an alternative to the private identification methods and aims to reduce the unnecessary sharing of personal data. Users of the Digital Wallet will have full control of the data being shared. In fact, the European wallet is based on three principles: available to anyone who wants to use it; widely useable across the bloc, and keep users in control of their data.
According to Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market, everyone will benefit from this, “EU citizens not only expect a high level of security but also convenience whether they are dealing with national administrations such as to submit a tax return or to enroll at a European university where they need official identification.
The European Digital Identity wallets offer a new possibility for them to store and use data for all sorts of services, from checking in at the airport to renting a car. It is about giving a choice to consumers, a European choice. Our European companies, large and small, will also benefit from this digital identity, they will be able to offer a wide range of new services since the proposal offers a solution for secure and trusted identification services.”
The proposed Digital Identity framework is part of the Commission’s 2030 Digital Compass, which sets out several targets and milestones. One of these is the goal that by 2030 all key public services will be available online and that 80% of citizens will use an eID solution.
Furthermore, this service will build on the European Electronic Identification and Trust Services initiative, which was adopted in 2014. It provides the basis for cross-border identification, authentication, and website certification. So far 60% of Europeans are covered by the current system. However, because it was not required that member states developed a digital ID and made it interoperable with other member states, there is a high number of discrepancies between countries that hindered the system. The new framework aims at solving that and extending the benefits to the private sector.
YouTube: EU Proposes Digital ID for Cross Border Checks
Photo credit: All images shown were taken by Christophe Licoppe for the European Commission.
Source: EC press release / press conference video footage