European Council Makes Headway Towards EU Digital Wallet

The European Council adopted its common position on the proposed legislation regarding the framework for a European digital identity (eID). The revised regulation aims to ensure universal access for people and businesses to secure and trustworthy electronic identification and authentication using a personal digital wallet on a mobile phone.

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 proposed new framework amends the 2014 regulation on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market (eIDAS regulation), which laid the foundations for safely accessing public services and carrying out transactions online and across borders in the EU.

The proposal requires member states to issue a digital wallet under a notified eID scheme, built on common technical standards, following compulsory certification. To set up the necessary technical architecture, speed up the implementation of the revised regulation, provide guidelines to member states and avoid fragmentation, the proposal was accompanied by a recommendation for the development of a Union toolbox defining the technical specifications of the wallet.

One of the main policy objectives of the proposal is to provide citizens and other residents, as defined by national law, with a harmonized European digital identity means based on the concept of a European digital identity wallet. As an electronic identification means (‘eID means’) issued under national schemes at an assurance level ‘high’, the Wallet would be an eID means in its own right based on the issuing of personal identification data and the wallet by member states. The text of the Council’s general approach therefore further develops the concept of the wallet and its interplay with national electronic identification means.

Based on guidance by member states, the Council’s text proposes that the implementing period of 24 months be counted from the adoption of the implementing acts. The text also clarifies that the issuance, use for authentication, and revocation of wallets should be free of charge to natural persons. However, when wallets are used for authentication, services relying on the use of the wallet may incur costs.

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