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European Commission


Brussels, 14th October 2014

Q&A: Electronic Identification and Trust Services (eIDAS) Regulation

What is the eIDAS Regulation about?

The eIDAS Regulation enables the use of electronic identification means and trust services (i.e. electronic signatures, electronic seals, time stamping, registered electronic delivery and website authentication) by citizens, businesses and public administrations to access on-line services or manage electronic transactions.

It gives:

  1. transparency and accountability: well-defined minimal obligations for Trust Service Providers (TSP) and liability;

  2. guarantee of trustworthiness of the services together with security requirements for TSPs;

  3. technological neutrality: avoiding requirements which could only be met by a specific technology;

  4. market rules and standardisation certainty.

What are the benefits of the eIDAS regulation?

  1. Citizens will be able to carry out secure cross-border electronic transactions and take full advantage of their rights across the EU, from the enrolment in a foreign university to the access to electronic health records.

  2. Citizens moving to another Member State will be able to manage registration and all other administration online, cutting out the paperwork.

  3. Businesses will benefit from less red tape. The gains can be enormous for them and lead to a significant reduction in overheads - boosting profits. It can make the difference between expansion and stagnation for small and medium sized businesses. (See the Annex)

  4. For example in Estonia you can set up a limited liability company in just 18 minutes using an eID!

  5. Security and privacy concerns are reduced, as citizens and businesses can use their own national eIDs to access services on-line.

  6. Government services become more flexibile and convenient, like the private sector.

Why not just update the e-Signature Directive?

The e-Signature Directive (Directive 1999/93/EC) has been in place for 15 years. The Directive has gaps, such as undefined obligations for national supervision of service providers, legal and technical cross-border interoperability issues, and does not cover new technologies having emerged since 1999 (such as mobile or cloud signing).

These issues are best addressed by integrating the e-signature rules into eIDAS rules.

  1. Public administrations will save taxpayers' money through reduced administrative burdens and will be able to provide a better and more efficient service and a better experience for users. Environmental benefits will accrue through reduced travel and paper use.

When will the Regulation apply?

The eIDAS regulation entered into force on the 17 September 2014.

After the adoption of relevant implementing acts (expected by mid-2015) Member States may voluntarily recognise notified e-identification of the other Member States.

The rules for trust services will apply from 01/07/2016.

The mandatory mutual recognition of eIDs will apply from mid-2018.

Will this Regulation directly apply to the EU Institutions?

No. An EU Regulation is applicable only to Member States and does not have direct application to the EU Institutions.

The EU institutions have started using e-ID: in just one year – we have nearly 1000 electronic transactions on our internal market information system. Nearly 30,000 electronic signatures for the Official Journal, giving legal effect to EU laws. Under Horizon 2020, we manage funding grants only electronically. ECAS, the Commission's e-identification and authentication system, has over 1.5 million users.

However, many European Commission processes and procedures are still done on paper. That's costly and cumbersome – both for those trying to interact with us, citizens and businesses; and for our own internal procedures.

Vice President Neelie Kroes today calls on President-elect Juncker to "practise what we preach" and ensure that the Commission goes truly digital. In a letter to the President-elect, she will say:

"I believe that the European Union should modernise and turn all public administrations digital. And I believe that the Commission should lead by example and become paperless both in-house, and when interacting with the public.

So my question to you is: will you accept this challenge to make the European Commission truly digital by using e-invoices, e-procurement and e-signatures under your Presidency – and call for the other EU institutions to do the same?"

Useful Links

Neelie Kroes statement on eIdentification and Trust services (eIDAS)

Neelie Kroes speech at the eIDAS official signing ceremony 14 October 2014

Neelie Kroes letter to President-elect Juncker on making the Commission digital

About trust services and eID

Digital Agenda website

Neelie Kroes' website

Follow Neelie Kroes on Twitter


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Email: Tel: +32.229.57361 Twitter: @NeelieKroesEU

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