Brussels boosts the European digital portfolio

The European Commission presented a bill on Thursday to create a European digital wallet that can be used to open bank accounts, file tax returns and enroll in university.

All citizens, residents and companies of the European Union will have the right to obtain this document, although it will not be mandatory. The tool will be free and valid in all 27 Member States.

Users will be able to easily display the new form of identification on the screens of their phones and other electronic devices.

The Commission wants citizens to use the European digital wallet for all kinds of everyday tasks, such as requesting birth certificates, communicating a change of address, renting a car, applying for a loan or checking into a hotel. All public services and large private platforms will be obliged to accept it.

The new instrument will not replace the traditional DNI issued by national governments, but will provide citizens with an additional tool that they can manage and use across borders, explains the Commission. In this way it will be possible to link the DNI with other documents, such as diplomas or the driver’s license.

“The European digital wallet will allow us to do in any Member State the same as we do at home without any additional cost and with fewer obstacles. Either renting a flat or opening a bank account outside our country of origin,” he explained on Thursday morning. late Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice President of the Commission. “This is a unique opportunity for all of us to experience even more what it means to live in Europe and be European.”

Secure digital identity?

Brussels wants this new European identity to be “reliable and secure”, in line with the General Data Protection Regulation (RGPD) of the block. The community executive maintains that it will allow people to choose what type of personal data they want to include and share.

Like the GDPR, the European digital wallet will be based on a regulation, which means that all Member States will have to adopt the tool under the same conditions to avoid discrepancies.

The bill will enter the debates and negotiations of the European Parliament and Council. The Commission believes that digital identity can be in place one year after its entry into force, provided that governments carry out the necessary technical work together with the private sector.

Brussels’ latest move comes as the pandemic is accelerating the digitization of economies and societies. However, the proposal is not entirely new and is based on a predecessor, called the eIDAS Regulation.

Adopted in 2014, the eIDAS Regulation laid the foundation for cross-border electronic identification and authentication. But the system lacked provisions for all national systems to be compatible with each other. It also excluded use for private services and integration with mobile devices.