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How mobile and electronic identification can help manage migration

The European Commission published a new study describing and analysing the landscape of how initiatives using innovative information and communication technologies (ICT) help to better manage migration.

The report provides recommendations on how innovative ICT could help the EU to minimise bureaucratic tasks while ensuring the associated societal and humanitarian needs.
The report analyses a number of initiatives using electronic identification (eID) and uses these initiatives to define a list of best practices in terms of governance, operations, financials and architecture, as well as general trends in the use of innovative ICT. Building on this, the report described three possible scenarios for EU action, eventually expanding on one–interoperability with third party eID schemes– to develop recommendations for a pilot programme.


The study identified the following three key challenges related to the management of migrants’ identification:

  1. The acceptance by national governments of eID credentials issued by third party organisations, for example to access public services with these eID credentials and them to be recognised as valid means of identification;
  2. The digitisation of identity establishment processes  including questions over the type of data that should be collected (e.g. biographical, biometric, etc.), the format in which it should be stored and the consequent possibilities for reuse and interoperability;
  3. The design of future initiatives and in particular how to: refine their scope; ensure their relevance for their target audience; and make sure they adhere to privacy-by-design principles.

Trends and best practices

The report identifies, in 12 case studies, a number of trends relating to the use of ICT and new technologies in the field of migration. The identified trends are the following:

  • uptake of ICT solutions to improve the efficiency of processes over the identity lifecycle;
  • digitisation of service delivery in the humanitarian field;
  • leveraging data generated by migrants to improve policy-making and service delivery.

The report  also identified a number of best practices and lessons that can be learnt from these examples in terms of governance, operations, financials and architecture of initiatives.

EU action

Building on the assessment of selected case studies and other data collected, the report considers three scenarios, in which EU action to ensure that migrants have access to a form of eID, could potentially bring an added value.
The three scenarios are:

  • the development of EU credentials for migrants in compliance with the European Regulation on electronic identification and trust services (eIDAS);
  • the possibility of enabling the creation of self-managed accretionary identities for migrants;
  • the interoperability of third party eID schemes owned by migrants within the eIDAS eID interoperability framework.

Because it is considered that the interoperability of third party eID schemes owned by migrants within the eIDAS eID interoperability framework would have the greatest added value and chance of reaching the implementation phase, the remainder of the report focuses on providing recommendations for a pilot implementation of this concept. In order to explore in full the preferred scenario, the report recommends the establishment of a pilot programme structured around six work packages.
Finally, the report presents a number of policy recommendations for both EU Institutions and EU Member States, drawing upon the findings of the report.
The main recommendation to the European Commission is to explore the possibility for it to institute and oversee the implementation of a pilot programme between a limited number of Member States and third party eID schemes. The pilot would reuse interoperable solutions and standards set at the EU level in the context of the eIDAS regulation.
Secondly, 16 additional recommendations to the European Commission, the Member States and a set of coordinated actions beyond the pilot programme are presented in detail, taking into account the key learnings of the initiatives reusing ICT to manage migration.

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