It's a Sign! EU Legislation Electronically Signed in Strasbourg
European Commission, 2017
Today, Antonio Tajani, on behalf of the European Parliament, and Deputy Prime Minister Matti Maasikas, on behalf of the Estonian Presidency of the Council, electronically signed a new regulation on the security of gas supply. A signing ceremony took place at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
The signing application used, the European Parliament Electronic Signature Console, was developed by the European Parliament and is based on DSS, the open-source electronic signature library developed for the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) eSignature building block. The Parliament and the Estonian Presidency sign electronically to underline the European Union's dedication to furthering the digital revolution.
This signing ceremony marked a major milestone in the digitalisation of Europe, the implementation of the Regulation (EU) N°910/2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market (better known as the eIDAS Regulation) and the reuse of the CEF eSignature building block.
With eIDAS, the EU has managed to lay down the right foundations and a predictable legal framework for people, companies (in particular SMEs) and public administrations to safely access to services and do transactions online and across borders. Indeed, rolling out eIDAS means higher security and more convenience for any online activity such submitting tax declarations, enrolling in a foreign university, remotely opening a bank account, setting up a business in another Member State, authenticating for internet payments, bidding to on line call for tender, etc.
The roll-out of eIDAS is reiterated in the eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020, which constitutes 20 actions to achieve the goal of open, efficient and inclusive administrations, providing borderless, personalised, user-friendly, end-to-end digital public services to all citizens and businesses in the EU. Furthermore, at the Tallinn Declaration on eGovernment in October this year, national ministers went even further, reaffirming the Member States' commitment to progress in linking up their public services and implement the eIDAS regulation.
The digitalisation of document signing, ergo giving legal validity to a document signed electronically, reduces costs, increases security and ensures processes (governmental, administrative or commercial) can be conducted online from beginning to end.
An electronic signature is an electronic indication of a person’s intent to agree to the content of a document or a set of data. Like its handwritten counterpart in the offline world, an electronic signature legally captures the signatory's intent to be bound by the terms of the signed document.
Deputy Prime Minister Matti Maasikas signs on behalf of the Estonian Presidency
There are now over 200 qualified trust service providers (including providers of certificates for electronic signatures) in Europe, which can be found by using the Trusted List Browser.
EU Member States and the European Commission support the adoption of electronic signatures in Europe with the CEF eSignature building block. The deployment of solutions based on this building block in a Member State facilitates the mutual recognition and cross-border interoperability of e-signatures. This means that public administrations and businesses can trust and use e-signatures that are valid and structured in EU-interoperable formats.
The CEF eSignature building block consists of several services managed by the European Commission. These include:
- The Digital Signature Services (DSS) open-source library for the creation and validation of e‑signatures and e-seals.
- The Trusted List Browser, which any European can use to find the qualified trust services they need.
- The Trusted List Manager, which helps the Member States' Trusted List Scheme Operators (TLSOs) create and edit a trusted list in a standard, machine-readable format.
- Technical specifications and associated standards (maintained by ETSI), which outline the requirements laid out by the eIDAS Regulation in regard to e-signatures and e-seals.
- Grant funding, to support the reuse of the eSignature building block.
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