EU takes next step towards approving legislative framework for European Digital Identity Wallet

The European Council has reached agreement on and approved a revised proposal for the legislative framework for the issuance and usage of the EU’s European Digital Identity Wallet that will enable EU citizens to store digital identity credentials including their national ID, driving licence and bank account details on their smartphone.

By approving a ‘general approach’ document that “further develops the concept of the wallet and its interplay with national electronic identification means”, the EC now has a “negotiating mandate” to take the proposal to the European Parliament for the next stage of the legislative process, the EC explains.

Overall, the proposed new framework will “ensure universal access for people and businesses to secure and trustworthy electronic identification and authentication by means of a personal digital wallet”, by requiring member states to “issue a digital wallet under a notified eID scheme, built on common technical standards, following compulsory certification”, the EC says.

It will also create “a legal framework for the exchange of identification attributes and information linked to identity”, provide for “user control and data protection and the targeted sharing of identity data limited to the needs of the specific service requested”, and recommends “the development of a Union toolbox defining the technical specifications of the wallet”.

The framework approved by the EC is the fifth “compromise proposal” put forward by the EU presidency. It incorporates a series of amendments to previous proposals for a European digital identity framework that will build on and update the EU’s 2014 eIDAS regulation on “electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market”.

Key amendments

The ‘general approach’ document approved by the EC lays out additions and amendments to the proposal across key areas including assurance levels, notification, certification, the implementation period, access to hardware and software features, issuance of electronic attestation of attributes by public sector bodies and record matching.

These include:

extending the implementation period to allow EU member states 24 months to issue wallets rather than the current 12-month deadline;

enabling citizens to obtain a wallet when their existing national eID does not meet the required assurance level ‘high’ by using additional remote on-boarding procedures;

clarifying that the issuance, use for authentication and revocation of wallets should be free of charge;

clarifying how the new framework will align with existing EU legislation including the Cybersecurity Act and Digital Markets Act.

Security and control

“During the debate, ministers expressed unanimous support for the objectives and approach of the presidency’s proposal, as a balanced compromise which took into account key concerns of the member states whilst preserving the delicate balance between the need for secure transactions and the possibility for citizens to keep control over their own data,” the EC says.

“Ministers emphasised that digital technologies could make life much easier and that a personal identity wallet would be indispensable for citizens and businesses across Europe.

“Underlining the massive advancement in how people use their identity and credentials in everyday contact with both public and private entities, and in how they employ digital services, ministers concurred on the key importance of the specific file for the EU’s digital transformation.

“The adoption of the general approach will allow the Council to enter negotiations with the European Parliament (‘trilogues’) once the latter adopts its own position with a view to reaching an agreement on the proposed regulation.”

The EU confirmed plans for the European Digital Identity Wallet in June 2021 and revealed in November that it is preparing to launch the wallet in 2024.

EU takes next step towards approving legislative framework for European Digital Identity Wallet was written by Tom Phillips and published by NFCW.