In November 2023, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU have sealed the deal on the Regulation for the European Digital Identity Wallet. This breakthrough finalizes the groundwork for a trusted and secure digital identity framework, propelling Europe into a new era of online accessibility and data protection. This innovation builds upon the eIDAS Regulation and signifies a pivotal leap toward achieving the Digital Decade 2030 targets, ushering in a future where all EU citizens can access public and private online services with robust security measures, safeguarding their personal data across Europe.
More than just a means of access, this Wallet mandates Very Large Online Platforms (designated under the Digital Services Act) and private services legally-bound to authenticate their users to embrace the EU Digital Identity Wallet for user authentication. Its standardized features not only enhance security but also open avenues for new business opportunities, fostering compliance with regulatory standards for service providers.
So, what's in it for Europeans?
Firstly, every EU citizen, resident, and business will have the right to possess an EU Digital Identity Wallet, voluntarily opting into this transformative system. These wallets will become a universal token, recognized across all Member States. The pivotal change lies in the user's control— the Wallet promises an intuitive interface and the utmost security, ensuring users have control over their data privacy, gaining the ability to determine precisely what data is shared when accessing online services. Beyond securely housing digital identities, the Wallet empowers users to perform various functions, from opening bank accounts to managing digital documents like driving licenses, prescriptions, and travel tickets.
Crucially, the legislative enhancements ensure a user-centric approach. The Wallet incorporates a transaction dashboard, facilitates reporting of data protection concerns, and encourages interaction between different wallets. Moreover, citizens can link their existing national eID schemes and access free eSignatures for non-professional use. The EU Digital Identity Wallet represents a monumental upgrade from the current digital identification systems employed by governments in the EU. Presently, only some countries offer digital identification systems, which suffer from significant limitations: they are not universally accessible, often restricted to online public services, and lack seamless cross-border capabilities.
In contrast, the EU Digital Identity Wallet promises safety, accessibility, and data protection while being free and easy to use. Its scope extends beyond borders, and by establishing a standardized system throughout the EU, these new regulations surpass the existing eIDAS Regulation, which laid the groundwork for cross-border electronic identification but lacked mandates for Member States to provide robust digital identification systems accessible across borders. Existing national identification systems won't be phased out. Instead, the EU Digital Identity Wallets will complement these systems, bridging the gaps and ensuring seamless identification and authentication in both public and private sectors throughout the EU.
The EU's Digital Decade Policy Programme set ambitious goals for digital transformation, aiming for universal access to a voluntary digital ID and essential online public services by 2030. As Europe strides forward in its digital journey, the framework of the EU Digital Identity Wallet paves the way for a seamlessly connected, secure, and user-centric online landscape.