The European Commission proposed the Digital Identity Framework in June 2021 to foster the use of digital identity by European individuals and businesses. The regulation would amend the eIDAS regulation on electronic identification (eID) by fostering the development of digital wallets that would link to their national digital identities and allow them to access public and private online and offline services. The Center for Data Innovation hosted a panel discussion with leading experts on how to foster digital identity in Europe.
The discussion started with an overview of digital identity. Digital identity solutions, such as eIDs, allow the government to guarantee that a person is who they claim to be. Sten Tikerpe, chief legal officer dealing with digital identity at the government of Estonia, explained that digital identity gives individuals cheap, convenient, and secure access to thousands of public and private services, from paying taxes to renting a bike. Ronny Khan, Seconded National Expert from Norway at the European Commission, added that digital identity allows individuals and businesses to prove attributes about their identity, such as their age or completion of a university degree.
Both speakers then discussed the state of play of eIDs in Europe. Mr. Tikerpe observed that not all European countries have a digital identity solution and those that have one use different systems. However, the uptake of digital identity is very high in some countries like Estonia and Norway where the whole population can use eIDs to access public and private online services.
Both Mr. Tikerpe and Mr. Khan weighed in on the proposed EU Digital Identity Framework. Mr. Tikerpe explained that making eIDs from the different member states interoperable will be the greatest challenge. Mr. Khan agreed that interoperability is the main issue as most eIDs in the EU do not work in other member states Mr. Khan explained that mutual recognition with non-EU countries will be essential to use eIDs outside the EU, and Mr. Tikerpe underlined the need for a pan-European approach for mutual recognition to ensure that countries outside Europe will recognize eIDs from all member states.
The speakers closed the discussion by noting digital identity is essential to ensure that the digital single market creates economic benefits for both consumers and businesses.