The EU has new legislation on e-signatures and trust services

September 15, 2014  |  Digitalisation, Europe, Legal

Europe has adopted and published a regulation which repels 15 years old directive on e-signatures. The new regulation is much broader than the old directive. It (1) lays down conditions for mutual recognition of electronic identification, (2) sets rules for trust services, in particular for electronic transactions, (3) creates a legal framework for electronic signatures, seals and time stamps, electronic documents and (4) deals with electronic registered delivery services and certificate services for website authentication.

The regulation will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the EU Official Journal: 28 August 2014. The 1999 e-signature directive, will be repealed as from July 2016.

Easier and more secure cross-border transactionstrust 150x150 The EU has new legislation on e signatures and trust services

The new regulation provides a common foundation for secure electronic interaction between businesses, citizens and public authorities. It seeks to increase the effectiveness of public and private online services, electronic business and electronic commerce in the EU and to enhance trust in electronic transactions in the internal market. Mutual recognition of electronic identification and authentication is vital, for instance in making cross-border healthcare for European citizens a reality.

System for mutual recognition of electronic identification

The new rules require member states to recognise, under certain conditions, means of electronic identification of natural and legal persons falling under another member state’s electronic identification scheme which has been notified to the Commission. It is up to the member states to choose whether they want to notify all, some or none of the electronic identification schemes used at national level to access at least public online services or specific services.

Timeline for mutual recognition

Those member states which so wish may join the scheme for recognising each other’s’ notified e-identification means as soon as the necessary implementing acts are in place. This is expected to take place in the second half of 2015. The mandatory mutual recognition is expected to kick off in the second half of 2018.

From e-signature to trust services

Until now, there were EU provisions only on electronic signatures, laid down in the 1999 esignature directive, which is repealed with effect from July 2016.

In addition to enhancing and expanding these provisions, the new regulation also introduces, for the first time, EU-wide rules concerning trust services, such as the creation and verification of electronic time stamps and electronic registered delivery services, or the creation and validation of certificates for website authentication.

Trust services trust mark

Trust services which comply with the regulation can circulate freely within the single market. In addition, an EU trust mark will be created to identify trust services which meet certain strict requirements. The use of the trust mark will be voluntary.

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