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Europe Goes Digital With Cross-Border eCommerce Identification

Use of eSignatures and related online trust services for procurement within the EU European has been approved, thus bringing the full potential of eProcurement to the region.

The European Parliament voted recently to approve the regulation of electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions. The European Commission earlier this year had proposed new rules to enable cross-border and secure electronic transactions in Europe.

Under the new regulations, businesses and consumer may can use their own national electronic identification schemes (eIDs) to access public services in other EU countries where such IDs are available. The new regulation also creates an internal market for eSignatures and related online trust services by ensuring they will work across borders, reports SecurityDocumentWorld.

eIDs now have the same legal status as traditional paper-based processes. In approving the regulation, the federation respected both existing national ID systems and the preferences of those member states lacking them. It allows countries with eIDs to opt in or to remain outside of the European scheme, according to the news source. However, once a member state wants to join the pan-European scheme, it must offer the same access to public services via eID that it does to their own citizens.

In commenting earlier this year on the need for online trust, Neelie Kroes, commission, vice president, noted that consumers and businesses should be able to transact within a borderless digital single market, which is the value of Internet. “Legal certainty and trust is also essential, so a more comprehensive eSignatures and eIdentification regulation is needed,” he said. “This means you can make the most of your eID, if you have one.”

With mutual recognition of national eIDs and common standards for trust services and eSignatures, Kroes  added, “we can prevent a national carve-up of the Internet and online public services and make life easier for millions of businesses and even more citizens.”

According to the parliament’s ruling, building trust in the online environment is key to economic and social development.

“Lack of trust, in particular because of a perceived lack of legal certainty, makes consumers, businesses and public authorities hesitate to carry out transactions electronically and to adopt new services,” the document states. “This regulation seeks to enhance trust in electronic transactions in the internal market by providing a common foundation for secure electronic interaction between citizens, businesses and public authorities, thereby increasing the effectiveness of public and private online services, electronic business and electronic commerce in the Union.”

The ruling also includes a bit of history on the matter, noting that an August 2010 commission communication “A Digital Agenda for

Europe” had identified the fragmentation of the digital market, the lack of interoperability and the rise in cybercrime as “major obstacles to the virtuous cycle of the digital economy.

Moreover, in its EU Citizenship Report 2010 “Dismantling the obstacles to EU citizens’ rights,” the commission further highlighted the need to solve the main problems that prevent Union citizens from enjoying the benefits of a digital single market and cross-border digital services.

In most cases, citizens cannot use their electronic identification to authenticate themselves in another member state because the national electronic identification schemes in their country are not recognized in there. “That electronic barrier excludes service providers from enjoying the full benefits of the internal market,” the parliament’s ruling notes. “Mutually recognized electronic identification means will facilitate cross-border provision of numerous services in the internal market and enable businesses to operate on a cross-border basis without facing many obstacles in interactions with public authorities.”

 

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