The Belgian e-ID and its complex path to implementation and innovational change

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article provides a critical view on the development and deployment phase of the e-ID in Belgium since 1999. It is based on extensive desk research and fifteen in depth-interviews with experts and stakeholders from government, administration, academia and industry who have been key in the development of the e-ID. The article identifies different elements that influenced, both in a positive and negative way, the societal, technical and political aspects of the Belgian e-ID. It shows that no severe problems occurred during the initial deployment phase, which came to an end in 2009 providing over eight million Belgian citizens with an e-ID. The pre-existence of a National Register and the preliminary experiences with the exchange of digital information between administrative entities in the field of Social Security enabled and facilitated the development and the distribution of the e-ID. However, the research also reveals that usage of the e-ID by citizens and uptake of e-ID based services by administration and business remains limited due to multiple factors. The complex system of state structures in Belgium and as a consequence the dispersion of competences across different governmental entities makes that no unified approach to e-government and e-ID based services has been developed. From the industries' point of view the privacy framework and the strictly regulated use of the National Registration Number provides no clear view on the allowed use of data accessible through the e-ID hampering take up in this area.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-41
Number of pages15
JournalIdentity in the Information Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2010


  • e-ID
  • e-commerce
  • e-government
  • e-signature
  • Path dependency

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