Brussels, 18 February 2011
Digital Agenda: Commission launches public consultation on eSignatures and eIdentification
In order to tackle low levels of consumer and business confidence in online transactions, the European Commission is asking citizens and other interested parties how electronic signatures and electronic identification (eID) and authentication can help the development of the European Digital Single Market. Currently, difficulties in verifying people's identities and signatures are a significant factor holding back the development of the EU's online economy. Electronic signatures and electronic identification (eID) and authentication can be an important tool to enable both users and providers to rely on secure, trustworthy and easy-to-use online services but must work in all Member States to be effective. The results of this consultation will feed into the Commission's review of the existing eSignature Directive and the preparation of a planned initiative on the mutual recognition of electronic identification and authentication. Boosting e-commerce, e-business, and making it easier to undertake administrative procedures online in the Single Market are important aspects of the Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200). The online consultation runs until 15 April 2011.
Neelie Kroes, European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda, said: "I welcome everybody's views on how we can best verify people's identities and signatures when we buy, sell or undertake administrative procedures online that need to be highly secure. I want to help all Europeans get online without feeling that they will fall victim to data frauds or scams. "
Low levels of consumer and business confidence when making transactions online are one factor holding back the development of the EU's online economy. Relying on secure, trustworthy and easy to use online services is vital for a strong and healthy European Digital Single Market. To tackle these issues, the Digital Agenda for Europe announced a review of the eSignature Directive (1999/93/EC) and an initiative on the mutual recognition of eIdentification and eAuthentication.
Everyone is invited to participate in the consultation by sharing their views on how electronic identification, authentication and signatures can contribute to deliver the European Digital Single Market and on possible measures to create optimal conditions to stimulate its progress.
The public consultation seeks feedback on:
citizens' and businesses' expectations of EU rules on electronic signatures, identification and authentication. In particular, the general usefulness of eSignatures and eID user and specific business sector needs, socio-economic benefits, fields of application, potential additional trust-building services (e.g. time stamping), mobile usage and the legal recognition of electronic consent by clicking "I accept"
the ICT sector's view on how eSignatures can be best tailored to face the forthcoming challenges triggered by technological progress. Interested parties are asked to express their views on existing barriers, security requirements, potential grading of security levels, and expectations on standardisation
the common set of principles which should guide the mutual recognition of eIdentification and eAuthentication in Europe, as well as considerations for economies of scale by allowing national eID systems, benefiting users across EU borders, and cross-sector uses in the public and private sectors
the potential contribution of research and innovation to the development of new eIdentification and eSignatures authentication, such as alternatives to Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) currently in use for the easy management of electronic signatures, and eID-cards.
The Commission will analyse the responses to the consultation as part of its review of the eSignature Directive and the preparation of an initiative on the mutual recognition of eIdentification and eAuthentication.
The Commission is also already supporting a large scale pilot project called "STORK" (Secure idenTity acrOss boRders linKed) to enable cross-border recognition of eID systems and easy access to public services in 18 European countries (see https://www.eid-stork.eu/ for details). The project aims to enable EU citizens to prove their identity and use national electronic identity systems (passwords, ID cards, mobile phones and others) throughout the EU, not just in their home country.
For more information
The consultation document is available on:
Neelie Kroes' website:
Digital Agenda website: