eIDAS: Boosting uptake

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Regulation (EU) N°910/2014 (eIDAS Regulation) on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market and repealing Directive 1999/93/EC provides a predictable regulatory environment for electronic identification (eID), electronic trust services – namely electronic signatures, electronic seals, time stamps, electronic delivery services and website authentication – and for electronic documents.

With eIDAS, the EU has laid down the right foundations for people, companies (in particular SMEs) and public administrations to safely access services and do transactions online and across borders in just "one click". The uptake of notified eID means and of trust services as key enablers of the Digital Single Market will ease the digital transformation of organisations, enhance the customer experience, improve the security of electronic transactions and stimulate the provisioning of new and innovative services.                                                                                      

Last September, ahead of the deadline for adoption, the European Commission finalised all the implementing acts, which constitute a concrete step towards building and unleashing the potential of the Europe’s Digital Single Market.

As for the technological infrastructure, on 26 November 2015, the Commission published as open source, under the Connecting European Facility program (CEF), the technical specifications and reference implementations of the interoperability nodes for the eID mechanisms.

With the eIDAS Regulation, the implementing acts, the standards as well as the technical interoperability infrastructure being rolled out under CEF, the EU is the first and only region in the world to have a holistic, workable and balanced legal framework for cross-border use of eID and trust services. The EU is undoubtedly ahead of the game in the eIDAS domain with world-class providers of hardware (e.g. smartcards), software and services (e.g. eSignature, eID, eDelivery), as well as administrations at the forefront of eGovernment.

2016 will be a very busy and important year for eIDAS and the European Commission's eIDAS Task Force. In just a few months, on 1 July 2016, eIDAS will repeal the eSignature Directive, and the new rules on trust services will become directly applicable in all EU Member States. This is a big step towards building the Digital Single Market, as it will ensure legal certainty and mutual recognition of trust services across the EU. Moreover, a trustmark for qualified trust services will be in place, which will further boost transparency in the market telling users whether they can trust an online service.

With regard to eID, since 29 September 2015, following the adoption of the implementing acts on cooperation between Member States on eID, on interoperability framework, on assurance levels for eID means and on notification, EU Member States may, on a voluntary basis, notify and recognise national eID means that citizens and companies could use across borders to access online public services. As of 29 September 2018, the recognition of notified eID will become mandatory. These are only the first steps to make eIDAS an everyday reality and to contribute to delivering the Digital Single Market. A strong engagement with all stakeholders is essential to accelerate the implementation and uptake of eID and trust services. In this regard, the Commission is planning a number of events, most notably:
It is essential that both public and private sectors adopt and rely on trust services and thereby improve the security of electronic transactions. It is equally important that Member States and private sector work together to ensure that European citizens, businesses and public administrations will fully benefit from the cross-border use of notified eID means, which are being rolled out and will be legally recognised as of the end of 2018. This will enhance the use of online services such as cloud computing, the Internet of Things and eGovernment, and the European Commission is committed to working with all stakeholders to make this happen.

Andrea Servida - Head of Task Force "Legislation Team (eIDAS)" at European Commission