Terra cognita proxima est

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On 14 June, IDnext, the Dutch Presidency of the Council, and the European Commission will organise a day where we bring together the top of Europe’s decision makers in the area of electronic identities. The title of the event is: eYou in the EU, which reveals the ambition that you can do your business abroad with your own national electronic identity in the near future. The European Regulation for electronic identities, ‘eIDAS’ in jargon, is the legal catalyst.


During this event decision makers will discuss the most important next steps in the development of electronic identities.


I am convinced eIDAS will boost Europe’s economy. The Netherlands is highly dependent on imports and exports, and eIDAS is an opportunity for the Dutch economy.


Businesses, citizens, policy makers and civil servants running a public service will feel the impact of eIDAS soon. To get there, all these parties need to cope with trusting the other.

At this moment, the user does not have a real personal electronic solution to rely on when (s)he needs a service abroad, e.g. for opening a business. When doing so, it feels like pioneering in Terra Incognita, even if this is in a warmheartedly welcoming neighbouring Member State.

With the help of eIDAS it is actually possible to go abroad with your electronic identity. eIDAS sets some rules for this road to Terra Incognita.

Technically and legally, this road has been paved. There is software for an eIDAS-node in place that can link national identities. The Regulation and its underlying implementing regulations have already been published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

So, “Brussels” has done its job. The European capitals need to deliver now. The next step is to connect national identification schemes to the eIDAS-node enabling national systems to communicate to each other.

Since there are quite a number of steps in the chain between a business or a citizen and the public or private service abroad, all things need to run smoothly during the ride. This raises a number of practical questions.

* Does my country need to open up closed national ecosystems to other countries?
* How to avoid an unjustified usage of public services?
* Is our national electronic identity robust enough to be accepted elsewhere?
* How to avoid incidents upfront, and if this would happen, how can incidents be reconstructed?
* How to guarantee a sufficient level of service, data protection and information security in the entire chain from user to service?
* How to make cross border electronic identification so attractive that businesses and citizens will use it?

These questions have not been listed here to remain inert. We need to cautiously tiptoe Terra Incognita now and trust that the other Member State is acting in the same way. The first signs are that it is already working. A solution is presented on the mijn.rvo.nl website.

The state of play of the eIDAS implementation will be addressed at the Presidency event co-organised with IDnext and the European Commission on 14 June. After attending the event, the challenges ahead should be known, so that Terra Cognita is near.


I am happy to welcome you at ‘eYou in the EU’.


Jasper K. Wesseling
Deputy Director-General for Enterprise & Innovation
Ministry of Economic Affairs