ESSIF: The European self-sovereign identity framework

Illustration of EBSI/ESSIF Framework. Graphic by the European Commission

The EBSI guiding principles are as followed:

PUBLIC PERMISSIONED — The identity of all participating nodes is known
DECENTRALIZED — Each member state should run its own set of nodes
SCALABLE — Support for high-throughput and high number of nodes
OPEN — (Preferably) open-source
SUSTAINABLE — Energy efficient
INTEROPERABLE — The EBSI should, as much as possible, be based on well-known standards and technical specifications

The goals of ESSIF:

  • provide seamless cross-border services for citizens
  • Help make institutions more efficient
  • Facilitate economic activity flow across borders

The scope of ESSIF:

ESSIF will not intervene in the business flow between the EU citizens/entities and relying parties. The request of services and the obtainment of those services are out of scope of ESSIF. ESSIF, however, will allow an EU entity to “obtain” verifiable credentials, to “register” verifiable mandates/consents, and to “obtain” verify verifiable claims, which then can be used to identify/authenticate relying parties and provide those with required claims/attestations.

Within the scope: How to:

  • facilitate cross-border interaction with SSI?
  • make/keep national SSI projects interoperable?
  • integrate/align existing building blocks such as eIDAS, e-delivery, once-only with SSI?
  • conceptualize and build an identity layer within the EBSI?
  • preserve European/democratic values in the implementation of SSI?
  • stimulate the SSI-transformation of public services
  • stimulate SSI development and standardization on a global level.

Out of scope:

The interpretations of the data (semantics) and the necessary standardizations and business logic. ESSIF will not build and maintain an SSI wallet for all European citizens.

The legal environment around ESSIF:

The legal assessment is still work in progress and mainly addresses the legal consequences and relationships of using DIDs and verified credentials (VCs) as well as the alignment of SSI solutions to the eIDAS regulation. Furthermore, legal questions are open for the trust framework regarding the legal input of the level of assurances (LoAs), governance aspects, conformity, etc.

The eIDAS regulation and its importance for SSI

eIDAS is a European regulation including “electronic identification (eID) and electronic Trust Services (eTS), which are key enablers for secure cross-border electronic transactions and central building blocks of the Digital Single Market […] a milestone to provide a predictable regulatory environment to enable secure and seamless electronic interactions between businesses, citizens and public authorities.” (EU Commission, 2015).

What is expected from the market?

  • Compliant self-custody wallets with support for multiple governance frameworks like Sovrin, LISSI, ESSIF, Jolocom, etc.
  • Sector-specific ledgers like the velocity network / Market identity hubs
  • New qualified trusted services providers (e.g. timestamp providers)
  • Network of trusted issuers

Pilots in 2020:

The SSI community wants to initiate and support new pilot projects and is actively looking for partners and industry stakeholders such as:

Join the initiative:

If you want to participate in the development of ESSIF you can join the stakeholder meeting organized by the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). The second stakeholder meeting was mid-January with around 100 attendees online and locally in the Brussels offices combined. Subscribe to their newsletter on their website. You can find all documents from the last stakeholder meeting on my Github.



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SSI Ambassador

SSI Ambassador

Educational content about self-sovereign identity with focus on Europe. Content by Adrian Doerk