EU-wide digital wallet: statement from lead MEP Romana Jerković 

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MEPs and the Swedish presidency of the Council reached a provisional agreement on Thursday on key elements of the legislation, during interinstitutional negotiations.

The Digital Identity Wallet would allow citizens to identify and authenticate themselves online without having to resort to commercial providers, as is the case today - a practice that raises trust, security and privacy concerns. It would also give users full control of their data and let them decide what information to share and with whom.

Rapporteur Romana Jerković (S&D, HR) welcomed the progress made in the negotiations with Council on Thursday: “We have a political agreement on the key elements of the proposal. The European Digital Identity Framework is a game-changing legislation that will propel the digitalization of the public sector and society as a whole. More work remains to be done but we are very close to finding a final agreement on the whole package. I am very pleased with the outcome of the trilogue where all institutions reaffirmed their political commitment to the need to ensure high levels of data protection, privacy and a high-level of cybersecurity as preconditions of trust " she added.

"At its core, the primary objective of this legislation is to improve the everyday lives of EU citizens. It aims to empower them with simplified access to both private and public sector services, not only within their own countries but also during travels and stays in other EU member states. The possibilities are limitless, ensuring individuals can fully exercise their rights wherever they go” she said.

During negotiations, MEPs ensured that the European Digital Identity Wallet becomes a multiuse tool that can also enable peer-to-peer interactions, use e-signatures to sign the documents and generate pseudonyms. MEPs also pushed for measures to strengthen privacy and cybersecurity as well as to require third parties to register with national authorities before interaction with the Wallet.

Certification of the European Digital Identity Wallet under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) would be voluntary, albeit with a review clause. Using the so-called privacy dashboard, users will have the possibility to request through the Wallet the deletion of their data as provided for under the GDPR.

Using the EU wallet will always be voluntary. MEPs also want to ensure that citizens who choose not to adopt it are not treated differently to those who do. The scheme would require each member state to notify at least one “Wallet” under a national eID scheme that would be interoperable at EU level.

The draft legislation includes provisions to securely request, obtain, store, combine and use personal identification data and electronic certificates, that can be used to authenticate online and offline and to access public and private services.

Next steps

Further discussions with the Council will have take place to finalise the file. It will then have to be endorsed by both Parliament and Council later this year before it becomes law.

Background

A study from the European Parliament research service highlights that since the pandemic, the provision of public and private services has been becoming increasingly digital. At the same time, entities such as banks, electronic communication service providers and utility companies, some of which are required to collect identity attributes, are acting as verified identity providers.

Existing digital wallet solutions are typically linked to payment solutions, and allow users to store and link data in a single seamless environment on their mobile phones. However, according to the Commission, this convenience comes at the cost of loss of control over personal data, while these solutions are disconnected from a verified physical identity, which makes fraud and cybersecurity threats more difficult to mitigate.