Many Europeans are not yet digitally literate and most national administrations have not yet implemented digital solutions. Making people's access to some services of general interest conditional on having a digital identity could result in a lose-lose situation: a significant number of Europeans could see their right to access these services being denied.

The EESC opinion adopted at the July plenary session and drafted by Dumitru Fornea sounds the alarm. New governance tools introduced with the digital and industrial revolution must not be oppressive and make people's daily lives contingent on having to sign up to digital technology systems that are controlled in an undemocratic way.

"The advantages of digital technology solutions are obvious," said Mr Fornea. "However, their rapid implementation, especially for services of general interest such as digital identity, could lead to the exclusion of a significant number of Europeans. We must ensure that humans remain in command, with democratic control and with the involvement of civil society organisations."

According to the EESC, digital technology solutions such as digital identity, digital means of payment and incorporation into virtual and augmented reality platforms should remain complementary tools and should not completely and unfairly replace other practices that have been developed and perfected by humans over thousands of years. 

The EESC was the first European institution to call for the "human in command" approach when dealing with AI systems and reiterates that it is paramount for humans to have the last say and be in full control of decision-making processes when it comes to machine developments. (mp)