A European Framework of Digital Credentials

Issuing credentials and qualifications digitally instead of on paper has a range of advantages: digitally signed credentials are more difficult to forge, their authenticity can be verified within seconds and they can be used directly in electronic systems, e.g. in e-recruiting or for admission procedures. This is why education institutions all over Europe started piloting or introducing the issuance of digital credentials.

However, without coordination, it is not ensured that these credentials are well understood all across Europe or the world. A learner receiving a digital diploma after her studies in Spain needs to be sure that it is well understood when she presents it to an employer in Estonia. To achieve this, the European Commission announced in its Digital Education Action Plan[1] the development of a European technical framework for digital credentials.

The objective of the framework is to facilitate understanding and verification of credentials across Europe. As a secure and fraud-resistant system that ensures data privacy it will build trust among learners, employers and education and training providers. By offering a common technical approach for issuing digital credentials it ensures that digital credentials are accepted all across Europe. Employers, education and training providers and other bodies will be able to check that credentials presented to them by candidates are valid and authentic. They will have easy access to background information for the automatic verification. They will also benefit from a newly developed accreditation blockchain, which indicates if the issuing institution was authorised to issue a specific type of qualification.

In this session, I will provide an overview of this newly emerging European framework that the European Commission together with Member States is currently developing as part of the new Europass[2], the European portal for people to manage their skills, learning and career. In the pilot phase, which runs until spring 2020, 16 countries are currently testing the application of the framework.

Written by Martin Le Vrang, European Commission, DG Employment – Digital Labour Market Unit Skills and Qualifications, Belgium. Published in the Book of Abstracts for OEB Global 2019, ISBN 978-3-94-1055-51-3. Order the print version here.


[1] Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the Digital Education Action Plan. (COM(2018) 22 final).

[2] Decision (EU) 2018/646 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 April 2018 on a common framework for the provision of better services for skills and qualifications (Europass) and repealing Decision No 2241/2004/EC (Text with EEA relevance). OJ L 112, 2.5.2018, p. 42–50.

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