Home ID Verification EU policymakers agree digital ID framework ‘core elements’ as pilot schemes begin

EU policymakers agree digital ID framework ‘core elements’ as pilot schemes begin

EU digital ID progress: European Commission DG Connect director-general Roberto Viola, European Parliament rapporteur (lead negotiator) Romana Jerković and Torbjörn Haak of the Swedish Permanent Representative to the EU | Credit: Deniz Anttila (Pixabay) and (inset pic) Daniel Holmberg (Sweden EU presidency spokesperson)

The prospect of the launch of European Union (EU) institution-backed digital identity wallets – known as ‘EUDI Wallets’ – has taken a step forward after a provisional political agreement was reached as technical pilots get underway across the continent.

The European Council, which sets the 27-member bloc’s political agenda, announced on 29 June that alignment had been found with European Parliament (EP) representatives on ‘core elements’ of a new framework for a European digital identity as lawmakers look to ensure ‘secure, trusted and seamless access to cross-border public and private services in the EU’.

The Council stated that a proposed revised EU regulation – an evolution of the 2014 regulation on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market (known as ‘eIDAS’) – ‘constitutes a clear paradigm shift for digital identity in Europe aiming to ensure universal access for people and businesses to secure and trustworthy electronic identification and authentication by means of a personal digital wallet on a mobile phone’.

“More and more people are using their identity and credentials in everyday contacts with public and private entities. A European digital identity wallet is therefore indispensable,” said Swedish minister for public administration Erik Slottner in a Council press release (the Council’s six-month rotating presidency moved from Sweden to Spain on 1 July). “This way, at least 80 per cent of EU citizens should be able to use a digital ID solution to access key public services by 2030”.

The co-legislators’ agreement comes just over two years after the European Commission revealed plans for a digital ID wallet available to all EU citizens, residents and businesses. The text of the provisional agreement develops the concept of the wallet and its interplay with the national eID schemes that exist in some – but not all – EU nations.

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‘Revolution’ for EU digital ID

The Commission welcomed the political progress towards what it described as ‘Europe’s first trusted and secure digital identity app’.

In a statement it described the personal digital wallet – ‘in the form of a secure and convenient mobile app’ – as the ‘central innovative element’ of the new eID framework.

‘The EU digital identity wallet will revolutionise digital identification by giving Europeans control over their personal data with the full convenience of mobile apps. They will be able to use online services and provide identity credentials in full control of their personal data,’ the Commission stated.

The Commission is investing €46 million (about £39.5m/ $51.6m) through its high-profile ‘Digital Europe’ programme into ‘piloting and enhancing’ the EUDI Wallet. On 23 May it announced details of four projects to test potential approaches across 11 ‘priority use-cases’, including ‘access to government services’. The four projects (summarised at the end of this article) involve more than 250 private and public organisations in total and will run for at least two years. More than €90 million is being spent in total (including private funding).

The Commission is also developing an open-source prototype of the EUDI Wallet ‘to support the pilot projects and continuously enhance the EUDI wallet technical specifications’.

RELATED READING UK government responds to digital ID ‘misconceptions’ after public consultation – an article (4 June 2023) from our sister title Global Government Forum

Toolbox will be updated

The new rules, as agreed by the Council and EP, provide a common technical architecture and reference framework, as well common standards to be developed with EU member states.

The proposal requires member states to issue a digital wallet under a notified eID scheme, built on common technical standards, following compulsory certification.

The original proposal was accompanied by a recommendation for the development of an EU toolbox defining the wallet’s technical specifications.

The first version of the toolbox was published on GitHub in February 2023 and will continue to be updated. The requirements and specifications of the toolbox will be mandatory once the legislative process on the European digital ID framework has been finalised.

Work is now continuing to complete the legal text in accordance with the political agreement. When finalised, the text will be submitted to member states’ representatives for endorsement. The revised regulation would then need to be formally adopted by Council and EP before it can be published in the EU’s Official Journal and enter into force.

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EUDI Wallet: the four pilot projects

POTENTIAL: Pilots for European Digital Identity Wallet Consortium
Co-ordinated by Germany and France, with the involvement of 17 member states and Ukraine. It involves more than 50 public administrations and more than 80 private entities. The project is applying the EUDI wallet to six use-cases: access to government services; opening a bank account; registration for SIM cards; mobile driving licences; e-signatures; and e-prescriptions.

EWC: EU Digital Identity Wallet Consortium
Co-ordinated by Sweden with the involvement of 18 member states and Ukraine. It involves more than 15 public administrations and more than 40 private entities. The project is testing three use-cases: storage and display of digital travel credentials; the organisation of digital wallets; and the organisation of payments.

NOBID: Nordic-Baltic eID Wallet Consortium
Co-ordinated by Norway with the involvement of eight member states and European Economic Area (EEA) countries. It involves more than five public administrations and more than 15 private entities. The project is focusing on a single use-case: the use of the EUDI wallet for the authorisation of payments for products and services by the wallet user.

DC4EU: Digital Credentials for Europe Consortium
Co-ordinated by Spain with the involvement of 23 member states and Ukraine. It involves more than 35 public administrations and more than 40 private entities. The project is testing the use of the EUDI wallet in the educational sector and the social security domain. The pilot project will use the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI) in the context of the EUDI wallet.

FURTHER READING

Global Government Fintech’s ‘ID Verification’ section

‘EU presents plan for bloc-wide digital ID wallet’ – our news story (9 June 2021) on the European Commission’s plans