Connecting Malta to Europe, digitally
A few years ago, MITA embarked on a long journey to implement the eIDAS Regulation in Malta. The new Regulation had come into effect in 2016 with the ambitious objectives of achieving cross-border interoperability for the use of digital signatures and authentication to eGovernment services in Europe, albeit in very different ways.
For the effective cross-border exchange of digital signatures within Europe, the Regulation created a common standard for Member States to achieve. Qualified Electronic Signatures have a special meaning under the eIDAS Regulation and provide for a presumption of the identity of the sender and the integrity of the signed document. A first for the Islands, MITA created a Public Key Infrastructure to issue the digital certificates for the electronic identity card, and successfully achieved the Qualified Trust Mark, attesting for very high levels of security for the infrastructure.
For achieving cross-border authentication to eGovernment services, the Regulation required that every Member State should establish an infrastructure known as the eIDAS Node, in accordance with common technical specifications. The eIDAS Nodes co-operate to allow citizens in every Member State to authenticate using their own electronic identity credentials to eGovernment services in other Member States. In another first, MITA built the national eIDAS Node using EU funds and connected it to allow notified electronic identity schemes to access our eGovernment services where applicable.
This summer we have completed the eIDAS Node infrastructure by attaching our own national electronic identity card to the eIDAS Node, following the notification process done by Identity Malta which afforded to the card the level of assurance High. In this way, Maltese citizens and residents will be able to use their electronic identity or residence permit card to access eGovernment services in other Member States, and the services offered by the European Commission through its authentication portal.
This achievement could not come at a better time as MITA is now preparing to shift gears in the implementation of the Once-only Technical System for the Single Digital Gateway Regulation. This will build upon the eIDAS Node infrastructure to additionally provide for the authenticity of data that is exchanged across borders for the fulfilment of online procedures.
We are reaching the end of this long journey, but there is no time to rest once we are just in time to embark on another even bigger one. Indeed, the eIDAS Regulation is being revised and the ambitions are now greater. Achieving ubiquitous access for all European citizens to public and private sector services is the next objective, and for this we have coming up the European Digital Wallet.
Interesting times, and many challenges ahead, as we continue to connect Malta to Europe, digitally.