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EU-wide ID card scheme could use mobile phones

System could work across 13 member states

The European Commission is testing cross-border electronic identity systems in an effort to create pan-European recognition of the 30 million national ID cards currently used in 13 member states.

The European Commission has announced that EU citizens will be able to prove their identity and use national electronic identity systems - which includes electronic passwords, ID cards, PIN codes and others - throughout the EU, not just in their home country.

National electronic ID (eID) cards are used by citizens to access a variety of public services such as claiming social security and unemployment benefits or filing tax returns. The plan is to align and link these systems without replacing existing ones.

The project, called Stork (Secure idenTity acrOss boRders linKed), is being led by the UK Identity & Passport Service and the Government Gateway.

The Stork project will run for three years and receive €10m funding from the European Commission and an equal contribution from the participating partners.

The European Commission has said the new system would allow citizens to identify themselves electronically in a secure way and deal with public agencies either online or "ideally" from mobile devices.

"Electronic Identities do not yet do enough for mobile EU citizens," said Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and Media. "By taking advantage of the development in national eID systems and promoting mutual recognition of electronic identities between Member States, this project moves us a step closer to seamless movement between EU countries that Europeans expect from a borderless Single European Market."

While only 13 of the 27 EU member states are participating in the pilot, the solutions developed and the experience gained by the project team will be shared with all states with the view to establish a number of trans-border pilot projects based on existing national systems.

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