Report on the state of pan-European eIDM initiatives†
The development and deployment of electronic identity management (eIDM) solutions in European electronic applications stands at a crossroads. Over the past decade, European Member States and EEA countries have gradually rolled out identity management solutions that were best suited to their national goals and ambitions. The goals of such initiatives were uniformly the same: improving administrative efficiency, improving accessibility and user-friendliness, and above all, the reduction of costs.
At the European level, these goals could be advanced by improving the interoperability of electronic identification/authentication solutions being offered at the national level. After all, by doing so, European citizens and businesses would be able to use applications in any European country, thus potentially benefiting citizens, businesses and administrations alike. Significant efforts have been made in recent years to chart the European interoperability difficulties related to electronic identities (eIDs) and to propose solutions to these problems.
More recently, efforts are moving beyond this largely theoretical level, and are geared towards creating functioning applications. This report charts the origins and scope of the ambitions for European eID interoperability, and looks specifically at how these are reflected in three specific initiatives:
- At the policy level, the so-called eID Roadmap is examined. This document outlines the European eID goals to be reached by 2010, and defines a number of specific objectives and milestones that should be covered along the way.
- At the infrastructural level, the recently initiated STORK Project is discussed. This project aims at developing a series of pilot projects which should be available to citizens of several European countries, using the identification/authentication means favoured by the governments of those countries. Thus, the STORK project should pilot a basic infrastructure for cross-border electronic identification/authentication.
- At the application level, the report also examines the efforts surrounding the implementation of the Services Directive. The Services Directive requires Member States to put electronic points of single contact in place by 28 December 2009, which service providers from any Member State should be able to use to complete the necessary procedures and formalities in order to be allowed to offer their services in the relevant country. In many cases, this implies that service providers will have to be able to identify themselves electronically in a way that is considered sufficiently reliable.
All of these initiatives have the potential to act as a catalyst in furthering the European vision for eID interoperability. However, in order to do so, it is important to assess their role and contributions in the general strategy for eID interoperability, to determine the relationship between these initiatives, and to identify any remaining gaps or inconsistencies.