The eIDAS regulation came into effect in Germany on 07/29/2017 through the eIDAS Implementation Act. Agreed on a European level three years before that, the regulation is to provide legal security in matters of electronic transactions. European companies and EU citizens benefit from this considerably.


What is the eIDAS Regulation?

The acronym stands for “Electronic Identification and Trust Services (eIDAS)”. In legal nomenclature, it is also known as EU Regulation No. 910/2014. The eIDAS Regulation establishes binding regulations which are valid across Europe in the fields of “electronic identification” and “electronic trust services”. The aim was and is to confer upon electronic transactions a comparable legal status to transactions on paper. An EU standard can be spoken of at this point. This purpose is very clear from the first paragraph of the EU Regulation:

 

The regulation specifies the basic conditions for

  • electronic signatures and certificates,
  • electronic time stamps and electronic seals,
  • electronic certification and website certificates

as requirements for attaining the EU standard. To put it simply: the foundations are laid here for the verifiably trustworthy and safe exchange of electronic documents – and on a pan-European level in all 28 member states. That’s the background of the eIDAS Regulation.

What does the eIDAS Regulation do?

For companies operating in the European Economic Area, the eIDAS Regulation sets out the requirements for more efficient trading. Comprehensive regulations apply which outline a uniform standard for electronic identification across the EU. This was an important step towards a European digital internal market; a priority of the European Commission. For EU citizens and companies, it should be easier and possible to get electronic transactions off the ground in a more legally-secure way from now. Thanks to the eIDAS Regulation, EU citizens can also make larger international purchases – e.g. property, cars, etc. – electronically, and thus complete the transactions digitally. Of course, contracts can also be signed electronically and thus regardless of location across the EU.

 

Benefits of the eIDAS Regulation at a glance

EU citizens and companies will experience the following benefits in everyday trade and change:

  • Consistency and transparency in the European internal market
  • Creation of clear liability regulations
  • Legal security for cross-border electronic transactions within the EU internal market
  • The option of remote signatures, even on mobile terminals
  • Mutual exchange of paper documents no longer necessary
  • A positive for location independence: contract partners no longer need to be present to sign contracts
  • A positive for secure, digital and more simple processes for citizens, authorities and companies

eIDAS trust services

So-called trust services are at the center of the eIDAS Regulation. They are the linchpin and fulcrum in the context of electronic identification and actually enable the latter.

By establishing uniform electronic trust services, the eIDAS Regulation enables trustworthy, cost-effective and quick electronic transactions – supported by a qualified electronic seal, a qualified electronic digital signature, an electronic time stamp, electronic delivery services and much more. Prospective trust service providers must first acquire this status through a complex qualification process.

 

eIDAS Regulation: practical examples

  • Electronically signing contracts
  • Secure email communications due to digital signatures
  • Certified electronic documents
  • Secure identification and authentication for websites
  • Electronic certification
  • Qualified electronic seals and time stamps

Current status of the eIDAS Regulation in Germany

As mentioned at the start, the eIDAS Implementation Act substantiates the regulations for electronic identification and regulations for the trust services for electronic identification on a national level. The Trust Services Act and the Trust Services Regulation describe the requirements and obligations which are incumbent upon a trust service provider. In all this, we remain curious about the extent to which the eIDAS Regulation and subsequent national laws are paving the way to a European digital internal market and thus providing secure electronic transactions. There’s certainly time for it.

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Thorsten Schmidt
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