The EU Digital Identity Regulation has recently been adopted. Consequently, the implementation of the new EU Digital Identity Wallet – a digital ID and wallet for EU citizens – is closer to becoming a reality. It will enable the citizens to access online services with their national digital identification, which will be recognised throughout the EU, without having to use private identification methods or unnecessarily share personal data.

Building on the existing eIDAS framework

In June 2021, the European Commission proposed a framework for a European digital identity that would be available to all EU citizens, residents, and businesses, via a European digital identity wallet.

The new framework amends the 2014 European electronic identification and trust services (eIDAS) regulation that laid the foundations for accessing public services and carrying out transactions online and across borders in the EU. The EU Digital Identity Wallet therefore builds on the existing eIDAS framework for trusted digital identities.

Understanding the EU Digital Identity Wallet - a secure online tool

The EU Digital Identity Wallet is generally defined in the EU Digital Identity Regulation as a secure online tool for storing, handling, and confirming personal identity information, allowing EU citizens to provide this information to others and create official digital signatures or seals.

The system is entirely voluntary and free of charge for users. It is designed for both natural and legal persons, and its interface will be a mobile application. It will enable users to securely obtain, store, and share digital documents, as well as to incorporate their personal details to digitally identify and authenticate themselves across the EU. 

Additionally, users will be able to store official and other relevant documents in a digital format and engage with a number of actors (public and private) across different member states. 

Practical applications 

The EU Digital Identity Wallet is envisaged to foster the digital transformation of the public and private sectors throughout a wide number of day-to-day scenarios. 

According to the European Commission, some examples of how the EU Digital Identity Wallet can be used include:

  1. Access to public sector services – Member States can offer access to a number of public services (e.g. requesting birth or medical certificates, or reporting a change of address) through digital portals where users can authenticate themselves by sharing their digital ID from their wallet; 
  2. Signing agreements The EU Digital Identity Wallet can be used to sign agreements by providing secure legally binding e-signature to any document, such as an employment or lease agreement;
  3. Mobile driving license Mobile driving licenses are a type of digital document that hold the same validity as a paper document that can be requested, issued, and stored using the EU Digital Identity Wallet;
  4. Education - Students can apply or enroll in universities, even in another Member State, through the EU Digital Identity Wallet; and
  5. Banking and Finance - The EU Digital Identity Wallet can be used to open bank accounts, apply for loans, or carry out everyday transactions without the need for traditional forms of ID.

Benefits and concerns

The EU Digital Identity Wallet has met with a wave of expectation, as it stands to offer a number of benefits for stakeholders.

For instance, it aims to provide greater protection for personal data, allowing each user to choose what data to share and when. It is also designed to streamline bureaucratic procedures by reducing costs, documentation, and time spent on such procedures. Finally, it is also expected to prevent fraud.

However, despite these benefits, this new tool has also raised concerns among some specialists and citizens. For instance, a group of 552 cybersecurity experts from 42 different countries have raised their concerns in an open letter, highlighting that the EU Digital Identity Wallet’s proposed technical infrastructure could lead to governmental surveillance or practices that undermine the right to privacy.

Looking ahead - a significant milestone

The EU Digital Identity Regulation will soon be published in the EU's official journal and will officially come into effect 20 days after its publication. 

This landmark regulation is expected to be a significant milestone in the EU's journey towards digital transformation. It will be fully implemented across the EU by 2026.