The New European Digital ID
The European Commission plans to introduce a new digital ID and has undertaken concrete actions to set a reliable legislative context that would allow the creation of an app containing the digital version of the identity card of each European citizen. If approved, the plan would allow people to use an app, called a “wallet”, to prove their identity online. The EU hopes it will have the basis of an agreement across member countries until October 2022, when the app will be ready for tests.
While the pandemic has brought to surface the need for and the advantages of mass digitalization, there is an increasing demand for means to identify and authenticate online, as well as to digitally exchange information related to identity. Due to such accelerated trend, the Commission aims at ensuring a unitary cross-border recognition system, which would establish a trusted Union market for services, with the same legal status as the traditional equivalent processes.
The European Digital ID will be recognized throughout Europe
Starting from the existing cross-border legal framework for trusted digital identities, the European electronic identification and trust services initiative (eIDAS Regulation), the Commission intends to create a framework that would ensure more complex and applicable rules which would ultimately determine an integrated digital European circuit.
Proving identity and sharing electronic documents with the click of a button on the phone
In this respect, it is expected that citizens will be able to prove their identity and share electronic documents recognized throughout Europe from their European digital identity wallets that would be available on electronic devices, including personal phones. Such storage data space would only be available at the citizens’ request and would basically be a smartphone app which would allow access to various aspects of their national digital identities.
The use of the digital wallet will be at the choice of the user
An important aspect is that the use of such wallets would not be mandatory, thus they would only be available free of charge to those who opt for using them, respectively any EU citizen, resident, and business in the Union, without replacing any national identity documents or national digital identity systems which are already in place.
These identification wallets would be useful for public and private online services in the EU. This would ease communication with public institutions whenever proving personal data is required and would increase effectiveness of different private services.
Secure and trusted identification
Moreover, the European identity wallets would create the possibility for their users to only disclose certain personal data aspects, thus only required information being disclosed to third parties, and to keep track of such sharing.
The European Commission’s proposal emphasized the need to ensure a high level of security of individual personal data, case in which certain thresholds, technical specifications, and operational aspects that digital wallets would have to fulfil will be agreed with the Member States.
Further developments of this initiative are envisaged in a short amount of time, to speed up its implementation process and ultimately to ensure the European Digital Identity framework within which the Member States would align in terms of creating a digital and secure personal profile.