The Council of the European Union has just announced the final adoption, on July 23rd, of the new eIDAS regulation on electronic identification and trusted services for electronic transactions in the internal market. The arrival of this text marks a new era for electronic signature in Europe.
Less than 4 months after its first reading in the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union has just announced the final adoption, on July 23rd, of the new regulation on electronic identification and trusted services for electronic transactions in the internal market, abrogating Directive 1999/93/EC.
Cryptolog, a long-established player in the field of electronic signature in France and in Europe, welcomes this regulatory framework that creates a single, secure space for electronic transactions in Europe.
“We welcome this new legislation as a great opportunity for the development of digital exchanges between all the countries of the European Union. A Polish judge will no longer be able to refuse an electronic signature applied by a Spaniard with a French solution”, said Julien Stern, co-founder of Cryptolog and European expert on electronic signature.
The goal of the eIDAS regulation is to create a single digital market by 2016, and to make rapid progress in the key areas of the digital economy. It aims to facilitate the cross-border use of online services such as identification, authentication and secure electronic signature.
Major impacts for the digital trust sector
This new regulation will have major implications both for the digital trust and IT security sectors as well as for the digital economy in general. They include mainly:
- The application of a regulation rather than a directive. Directive 1999/93/EC essentially covered elec-tronic signatures without providing a complete cross-border and cross-sector framework for secure, reliable and easy-to-use electronic transactions. Unlike the directive, this new Community regulation will apply fully and directly in Europe and allows the member States no possibility for national legislative interventions. It repeals 1999/93/C as of the 1stJuly 2016 and will apply immediately in all EU Member States as of this date. It will replace national laws, giving rise to profound changes in some countries’ legislation in regards of electronic signature and identification.
- The creation of a new legal object: electronic signatures of legal entities. A second important innova-tion, this regulation introduces a new legal concept – which did not exist in French law – namely, the signature of a legal entity or digital corporate stamp. Up to now, only individuals could create an elec-tronic signature. Companies, government bodies and associations will now be able to sign, in their own name, documents that will be admissible as evidence in court.
- The end of the smartcard dogma. The 1999 directive advocated the use of certificates on secure phys-ical media to achieve the highest level of probative value for electronically-signed documents. The regulation introduces a relaxation of the legal regulations to be respected in order to benefit from the presumption of reliability from all European courts: the use of a qualified physical medium is not part of the requirements applicable to devices for creating qualified electronic signatures, which make it possible to achieve the highest level of legal certainty on the signed documents. This decision had been widely anticipated by Cryptolog.
On the 16th of June last, the latest edition of the Assises de la Confiance Numérique (Conference on Digital Trust) was an opportunity to fully take stock of the principal innovations brought about by the eIDAS regulation, during a round table discussion entitled “Digital Trust and legal regulations: how to take advantage of the new European regulations ?”