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European Commission debates eID

Solving the 'interoperability puzzle'

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The European Commission is considering the feasibility of an interoperable electronic identity (eID) system across Europe.

The eID system is expected to help reduce the administrative 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.

Speaking at the International Conference Advancing eGovernment in Berlin on 1 March 2007, Viviane Reding, EC member responsible for information, society and media, told delegates: "Proving one's identity, securing rights for allowances and filling in unfamiliar documentation can be a real struggle."

She said the EC was not proposing a new European eID system, but wanted to enable "mutual recognition" in existing systems.

The eID could also be used to access frequently used services across multiple departments. These could include medical reimbursement, unemployment benefit, pensions, and other allowances.

"It does not matter that there are different eID systems across Europe," said Reding. "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 online public services."

The EC is 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 expect "once only data provision". She said simplifying services for citizens will solve the "interoperability puzzle", but if administration was reduced for Europe's 20 million firms it would aid economic prosperity and reduce errors and delays within the public sector.

"The administrative burden can be as high as seven per cent of GDP in Greece and Hungary and the Baltic States but could be reduced down to the 1.5 per cent recorded in the UK and Sweden," she said.

The commission's action plan for Reducing Administrative Burdens in the European Union has set a target to reduce burdens on businesses by 25 per cent by 2012.

The EC is also launching the next phase of its five year eGovernment action plan later this month. The plan will extend its best practice examples to include e-health and e-inclusion. It will also support exchanges of practice and community building tools using the latest social networking tools.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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