European Parliament approves launch of European Digital Identity

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European Parliament approves launch of European Digital Identity

European Parliament approves launch of European Digital Identity

Following the provisional agreement reached in November 2023 on the European Digital Identity Regulation, the process continued to move forward until it reached a significant milestone last February 29. On this date, the Plenary of the European Parliament approved the Proposal for a European and Council Regulation aimed at amending Regulation 910/2014, known as eIDAS, with the digital future of Europe as main focus.

This change focuses specifically on the establishment of a Framework for the European Digital Identity, so that common standards and requirements are established for the issuance, authentication and use of a single European digital identity, in order to ensure its validity and reliability in all Member States and allow transactions of all kinds.

It also promotes innovation in digital services and universal access for individuals and businesses to secure and reliable electronic identification and authentication without the need to rely on private providers.

Key aspects of the European Digital Identity

The approval of this proposal represents a significant step towards the consolidation of digital identity as a fundamental element in Europe’s digital transformation, laying the foundations for a more secure, inclusive and efficient digital environment. Among its most relevant features we can mention the following:

  • Its ability to be widely used as a method of identification or to confirm personal information when accessing both public and private digital services across the EU. This approach promotes interoperability and facilitates access to a wide range of online services, removing barriers associated with identification in cross-border digital environments through the use of digital wallets.
  • Full user control over what aspects of their identity, data and certificates they wish to share with third parties. Users have the freedom to choose what information to disclose and can follow up afterwards to ensure that their data is used appropriately and responsibly.

In line with the General Data Protection Regulation, users will have the ability to manage and delete their data as required by the regulation. In addition, the option of storing data locally on the user’s device will be offered, providing greater control over personal information.

  • The versatility of the eID, which is reflected in its application in a wide variety of cases, including access to public services such as requesting certificates or change of address, opening bank accounts, storing medical prescriptions for use throughout Europe, age verification, car rental using digital driving licenses or hotel registration, among others.
  • The European Digital Identity will be completely voluntary, an aspect that seeks to avoid discrimination against those who choose not to use it or who do not have the necessary means to do so, offering citizens freedom of choice regarding its adoption.
  • The digital ID wallets will operate under an open-source license. This will allow the source code to be accessible to the public, which will foster trust and improve both the functionality and security of the wallets.

Benefits of the European Digital Identity

The European Digital Identity comes as a response to the shortcomings present in the digital identification systems currently offered by EU governments. These systems, for the most part, are not available to the entire population, are limited to online public services and lack interoperability to allow seamless, cross-border access.

The eID will offer a number of significant benefits for European citizens:

  • Full Digital Identification: it will allow citizens to digitally identify themselves, store and share various identification data, such as driving licenses, academic qualifications, bank accounts or medical prescriptions at the click of a button and in all countries of the Union.
  • Functionality through Mobile Digital Wallets: The European Digital Identity operates through digital wallets available in applications for cell phones and other devices. This allows users to identify themselves both online and offline, store and exchange information provided by administrations and trusted private sources on a single device that they can carry with them everywhere.
  • Enhanced privacy and security: This means of digital identification will prevent the use of private identification methods or the unnecessary exchange of personal data. User control will ensure that users decide with whom and under what conditions they share their personal information.
  • Harmonized system: Digital identity wallets will provide a harmonized system across the EU, overcoming existing limitations and discrepancies between national systems. This will ensure secure and seamless access to public and private services across the Union.

In addition, eID will build on existing national systems, complementing rather than replacing them. This will enable seamless identification and authentication across the EU, as well as the exchange of personal electronic attributes and credentials.

In this sense, the European Digital Identity stands as a fundamental tool to make life easier for citizens and businesses in the EU. Thanks to the trust framework established by the eIDAS Regulation, the associated identification and trust services can be used with legal effect throughout the Union, promoting security in the digital single market.

Next steps

Following final approval by the Parliament, the next crucial step for its entry into force as a directly applicable Regulation will be formal ratification by the EU Council of Ministers.

In preparation for this new legislative framework, four large pilot projects have been launched with the collaboration of more than 250 private companies and public authorities from 25 EU member states, together with participants from Norway, Iceland and Ukraine.

To date, various functionalities of digital wallets have been demonstrated, exploring use cases ranging from opening bank accounts to employment assistance applications. These pilots offer a practical insight into what the experience of using the European Digital Identity could be like in everyday life.

In short, the road to implementing the European Digital Identity is moving steadily forward and we are closer than ever to making this initiative a reality. In the meantime, we will be watching for further developments and the final launch of these projects that promise to transform our digital experience in the European Union.

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