Towards a European eID system


The European Commission is examining ways of introducing an interoperable eID system across Europe, stated Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information, Society and Media, at the International Conference on Advancing eGovernment, held in Berlin on 1 March 2007.

Reding said the EC was not proposing a new European eID system, but was eager to work towards "mutual recognition" in existing systems. “Proving one's identity, securing rights for allowances and filling in unfamiliar documentation can be a real struggle," she said, confirming that the aim of the eID system would be to ease the burden on mobile workers and travellers in the EU. It will also simplify cross-border business transactions, company registrations, or payment of tax obligations for small businesses. In addition, the eID could be used to access frequently-used services across multiple departments, including medical reimbursement, unemployment benefit, pensions and other allowances.

"It does not matter that there are different eID systems across Europe. Let's just agree that these systems can talk to each other, recognise and authenticate bona fide identities and open doors to universal access to on-line public services," she said, inviting countries to work together to put forward proposals for a large-scale pilot on eID interoperability later this year.

Reding also told delegates that citizens and businesses now expect "once-only data provision". She said simplifying services for citizens will solve the "interoperability puzzle", and would have the additional benefit of reducing administration for Europe's 20 million firms. This would boost economic prosperity and reduce errors and delays within the public sector. "The administrative burden can be as high as 7 % of GDP in Greece and Hungary and the Baltic States but could be reduced down to the 1.5 % recorded in the UK and Sweden," she said. The Commission's action plan for Reducing Administrative Burdens in the European Union has set a reduction target of 25 % by 2012.

The EC is to launch the next phase of its five year eGovernment action plan later this month, extending its best practice examples to eHealth and eInclusion, while thematic networks will explore using ICT to implement policies.

From IDABC - Interoperable Delivery of European eGovernment Services to public Administrations, Businesses and Citizens