European Union introduces secure digital identity initiative

In a significant move towards digital transformation, the Council of the European Union announced the adoption of a pioneering framework for a European digital identity (eID) on Tuesday. This framework aims to establish a trusted and secure digital identity for all Europeans, as per a press release from the Council. Mathieu Michel, the Belgian Secretary of State for digitisation, administrative simplification, privacy protection, and building regulation, hailed the adoption of the European digital identity regulation as a landmark achievement.

European Union introduces secure digital identity initiative

He emphasized the importance of empowering citizens with a unique and secure European digital wallet while maintaining full control over their personal data. Michel asserted that this step positions the EU as a global leader in the digital domain and bolsters security in online interactions. The European digital identity regulation places citizens at the forefront, contributing to a significant enhancement and simplification of access to public services online. Michel stressed the necessity of alleviating citizens from the burdens of administrative complexities and institutional intricacies.

The revised regulation heralds a profound shift in digital identity practices within Europe. Its primary objective is to ensure universal access to secure and reliable electronic identification and authentication for individuals and businesses across the continent. Under this new law, member states will provide digital wallets to citizens and businesses. These wallets will facilitate the linkage of national digital identities with other personal attributes such as driving licenses, qualifications, and bank accounts.

Citizens will be able to easily verify their identities and share electronic documents from their digital wallets using mobile phones. The introduction of European digital identity wallets (EDIWs) will enable citizens to access online services using their national digital identification, which will be recognized throughout the EU. Importantly, this can be achieved without resorting to private identification methods or unnecessarily disclosing personal data.

The regulation emphasizes user control, ensuring that only pertinent information is shared. Key elements of the revised regulation include provisions to enhance the effectiveness and extend the benefits of secure and convenient digital identity to the private sector and mobile applications. Additionally, citizens will have access to a transaction dashboard within the wallet, the ability to report data protection violations, and the option for interaction between wallets.

Furthermore, citizens can integrate existing national eID schemes into the wallet and avail themselves of free e-signatures for non-professional use. The revised regulation is scheduled for publication in the EU’s Official Journal in the forthcoming weeks. It will come into effect 20 days after publication and is slated for full implementation by 2026.