The European Commission has adopted a draft Regulation* aimed at ensuring cross-border legal recognition of electronic IDs, eSignatures and other electronic Authentication services in Europe (eIAS), as foreseen in the Digital Agenda for Europe.
The measures will enhance trust in pan-European electronic transactions and enable electronic identification, authentication, signature and related trust services, as well as a high level of data protection and user empowerment in the Single Market.
Electronic identity (eID) technologies and authentication services are essential for all kinds of online transactions. Today, log-in usernames and passwords are among the most common online authentication systems. While these systems are adequate for many applications, more secure solutions are increasingly needed to protect personal data online.
The draft Regulation will contain a review of the existing eSignature Directive to ensure harmonised application and simplification, in order to facilitate cross-border electronic transactions. The scope of the current Directive will be widened and will include mutual recognition of eIDs, so that all Member States recognise and accept all formally notified eIDs from other EU Member States.
Revising the current directive was one of the twelve key actions to unlock growth set out by the Commission in the Single Market Act (see IP/11/469) in 2010. Eleven of those proposals are already with the Council and the European Parliament and the set will be completed on adoption of this proposal.
Key beneficiaries of the various aspects of the Regulation will include:
- Students who could register for a foreign university online, rather than having to travel abroad to complete the paper work in person.
- Citizens arranging a move to another EU country or a marriage abroad or filing multiple tax returns.
- Patients needing medical assistance abroad could securely check or authorise a doctor to access their online medical records.
- Companies could tender online for public sector contracts anywhere in the EU. They could sign, time stamp and seal their bids electronically instead of printing and sending multiple paper copies of the bids by courier.
- People wanting to do business in another EU country could set up a company through the Internet and submit annual reports online, with ease.
- Governments could reduce administrative burdens and increase efficiency, better serving their citizens and saving taxpayers' money.