The European Union (EU) is revealing plans for a digital identification wallet that the 450 million residents of the 27-nation bloc can use to access public services and store important identification documentation.
“The European digital identity will enable us to do in any Member State as we do at home without any extra cost and fewer hurdles. Be that renting a flat or opening a bank account outside of our home country,” Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission’s (EC) executive vice president for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age, said in a Thursday (June 3) press release.
EU citizens can voluntarily sign up for the European Digital Identity Wallets, a process that Vestager said would be “secure and transparent” and would give people the ability to control if their data is shared, who it’s shared with, and how much information is available for sharing.
A digital green travel certificate — effectively a vaccine passport — could be used as a means of reopening travel across the European Union. The EC wants digital wallet applications to be available on smartphones to help people navigate the cross-border bureaucracy.
The digital wallet is intended to help people facilitate bank account openings, sign apartment leases, and enroll in college abroad. The EC plans to discuss the wallet with EU member countries and get them on board with technical details and launch pilots.
Some EU countries already have their own national digital ID systems. Belgium has a mandatory ID card that has a mobile app equivalent and is used to pay taxes, carry out bank transfers or request key documents from local authorities.
Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton said that the digital wallet offers people a convenient new way to “store and use data” for all sorts of services, while also extending a “high level of security,” whether it’s airport check-ins, car rentals or something else.
The planned digital wallet results from an EU audit on Tuesday (June 1) conducted throughout the region regarding the existing digital ID methods that are currently being used by 19 of the 27 EU countries and aren’t necessarily compatible.