Commission progress report on electronic signatures

By EDRi · March 29, 2006

A new progress report by the European Commission on the evolution of the
electronic signatures in the European Union was made public on 17 March
2006. The report highlights the low usage of the qualified electronic
signatures by European businesses and citizens.

The report focuses on the “Directive on a Community framework for
electronic signatures” adopted in 1999. The directive has introduced legal
certainty with respect to the general admissibility of electronic
signatures, all the general principles being now included in the legislation
of all 25 Member States.

The commission sees a much larger use of the qualified electronic
signatures – based on Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) technology – in the
future with the introduction of the electronic ID cards and in some
e-government services, such as on-line income tax returns.

Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding said “much work
still has to be done in particular to make signatures work across borders. I
also see a need for asking whether we need further adaptations of our EU
framework for electronic signatures to technological and market developments
and to the better regulation-policy of this Commission.”

The official press release announced that The Commission would also prepare
a report on standards for electronic signatures in 2006 to see whether
further regulatory measures by the EU would be necessary.

Also, the Commission will hold a series of meetings with EU Member State
experts and stakeholders to consider possible complementary measures to
address, where appropriate, any differences between national laws
transposing the e-signatures Directive that could fragment the single
market, any clarifications needed in specific articles of the e-signatures
Directive and any technical and standardisation work necessary to improve
the cross-border interoperability of the e-signature systems.

Electronic signatures: legally recognised but cross-border take-up too slow,
says Commission (17.03.2006)

Report on the operation of Directive 1999/93/EC on a Community framework for
electronic signatures (15.03.2006)