The European Committee of the Regions has backed
the idea of a European Digital Identity Wallet,
which should enable citizens to prove their
identity all across the European Union allowing
them access both commercial and public services
online. Members adopted today at the plenary
session an opinion drafted by Mark Weinmeister
(DE/EPP), Secretary of State for European Affairs
of the Land of Hesse, in which they suggest that
this could become a concrete element of European
identity that every EU citizen is aware of.
However, the opinion points out that the use of
digital identity should remain voluntary and
underlines it needs to be sufficiently reinforced
against the risk of cyberattacks.
The European Commission presented a framework for the
European Digital Identity Wallet
in June. It would allow all citizens, residents, and
businesses in the EU to have a digital identity,
facilitating the life of people living or traveling in
another Member State.
The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) underlines
that the solutions should build on a marketing-based
approach with the close involvement of technology
leaders. It also advocates extending the wallet's use
worldwide as a proof of EU identity, including features
such as an official EU vaccination certificate or a
digital deposit of visas.
"The European Digital Identity Wallet makes it possible
to access online services, to store personal electronic
documents and to provide evidence of personal
particulars without revealing your identity. Whether
you are renting a bike or paying your taxes, it will be
convenient having a single digital identity across
Europe. Europe is taking the lead here and setting an
example for other parts of the world. However, European data needs to remain in European
hands, and users must be able to decide themselves what
data they share and how those data are to be used",
rapporteur Mark Weinmeister said.
The opinion warns against technical risks inherent in
the centralised storage of identity data in a mostly
mobile application. Therefore, it is important that the
Digital Identity Wallet is sufficiently reinforced
against cyberattacks and that suitable blocking
facilities and dedicated secure backup systems permit
secure reinstallation by the rights-holder. When it
comes to the ID used for access by economic operators,
the authorisation check should be designed with a
secured certificate whose validity is of limited
duration or cyclical.
With this in mind, the CoR insists that the
implementation, particularly in the start-up phase,
should not be hasty but rather incremental. This means
extending the implementation deadline for Member States
from 12 to 24 months and drawing on expertise from
solutions that already exist at national level.
The opinion also highlights that a big publicity drive
is needed to connect with the EU population about the
European Digital Identity Wallet and the opportunities
it offers for use in the EU internal market, and about
the safeguards for data protection and data security.
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