Germany and Spain and join forces on the development of a cross-border, decentralised digital identity ecosystem

  •  Spain and Germany have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to exchange best practices in the field of self-sovereign digital identity at technical, regulatory and operational level.
  • This cooperation agreement also foresees the setting up of a cross-border pilot for a European ecosystem of digital identities with a view to contributing to the European Digital Identity Framework
  • This collaboration will remain open to other European Member States committed to the development of an EU-wide digital identity ecosystem

July, 29th 2021 - The Government of Spain, through the Secretary of State for Digitalisation and Artificial Intelligence, Carme Artigas, has signed a joint declaration with the Federal Republic of Germany, represented by the State Minister of Digitalisation Dorothee Bär, establishing a cooperation agreement between the two countries to cooperate in the field of cross-border digital identity based on the principles of self-sovereign identity (SSI).

The cooperation agreement envisages the design and conceptualisation of a cross-border pilot to be implemented in the near future, with a view to contributing to the development of the European Union’s Digital Identity Framework, recently announced as part of the eIDAS Commission proposal.

Furthermore, both countries will share best practices in the field of digital identity from a technical, regulatory and operational point of view, and explore options for the establishment and up scaling of an open and decentralised identity ecosystem that can work across borders while ensuring safe and reliable digital identities based on state-issued identity documents and digital identity credentials.

With these objectives in mind, both countries have approved the creation of a joint working group on digital identity and committed to present the results at regular intervals to all stakeholders.

The declaration also envisages keeping this collaboration open to other Member States committed to the development of decentralised, self-sovereign digital identity for national and cross-border use in Europe.

People at the heart of the European approach

Digital identity is the basis for the provision of digital services – both public and private – to citizens, who must be empowered to securely share their own identity data under their exclusive control. The creation of a secure digital environment is one of the most important levers for Member States and the European Union as a whole to harness the potential of our economies and the European single market in a digital world.

The Spanish Secretary of State for Digitisation and Artificial Intelligence, Carme Artigas, said:
“People should be empowered with their data and their identity. The collaboration that we start today with Germany on a Self-Sovereign Digital Identity is a step on the European road to data sovereignty”.

The German State Minister for Digitisation, Dorothee Bär, said: “The German government recognises digital identity as a fundamental building block for successful digitisation. We have already launched a national SSI-based digital identity ecosystem which now involves more than 60 stakeholders from the private and public sectors as well as a live use case – the digital hotel check-in. Over the coming months, we plan to implement several more national use cases to expand this ecosystem. We are thrilled to take the natural next step through our partnership with Spain to show all of Europe the potential of user-centric, decentralised identities.”

The aim of this declaration is to generate a bold vision of digital identity at national and European level, inspired by the European approach to digitisation, which places people at the centre and is rooted in common European principles and values.

The German Secretary of State and CIO of the Government Markus Richter comments: “I welcome the cooperation of the Federal Chancellery with Spain to test new technological approaches such as the self-sovereign identity. Our common goal is always a secure and at the same time user-friendly digital identity for the citizens of Europe. It is important to me that we always measure new developments against the requirements of the European eIDAS Regulation, which regulates the security and trust in cross-border digital identification uniformly for all EU states.”

This is a vision that gives citizens full control of their digital identities, ensuring that the rights granted offline are also enforceable online. This step forward represents a new advance towards digital and data sovereignty, as well as a support for the growth of our economies and the European single market, at a crucial moment when the Spanish and German states have decided to join forces to face this unprecedented challenge.