1 July 2016 was the first significant red letter day for eIDAS, the day that the eIDAS regulation concerning Trust Services replaces the old 1999 EU directive, providing for the first time cross-border formal recognition of e-Signatures, e-Seals and other services in Europe.
While the mandate technically only applies to Member State governments, the benefits to businesses, citizens and public authorities wishing to improve the efficiency and reliability of electronic transactions cannot be overstated. Although before eIDAS, e-Signatures were recognised and were legally-binding, each Member State had its own variant which led to confusion and frustrating misunderstandings that undermined the expectations of a digital single market across Europe. Now eIDAS provides for the mutual recognition of e-Signatures by every Member State making cross-border interoperability a long awaited reality.
So the provisions for trust services under eIDAS came into force on 1 July and overnight Europe became a better place to do business electronically. Well, almost. Whilst many Member States have prepared for this day – as have companies such as Adobe, Kofax, Cryptomathic, Signicat and others – and have established supervisory bodies to monitor compliance criteria and provide evaluation mechanisms for qualified trust service providers (QTSPs) offering qualified electronic signatures in place, others are not quite there yet.