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2015/10/15Dematerialisation represents an important step towards greater trust, greater fluidity, greater accessibility and greater security in digital affairs in Europe. [by Jean-Marc Rietsch, international dematerialisation expert]

eIDAS Regulation No. 910/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market

 Although digital technologies have a growing presence in day-to-day life, their implementation in businesses and organisations is lagging. The main reasons for this are a fragmentation of the digital market, a lack of interoperability and even an increase in cybercrime. With eIDAS, Europe has adopted a new regulation that applies to all Member States. This regulation, repealing Directive 1999/93/EC of 13 December 1999 on a Community framework for electronic signatures, appropriately incorporates the experience gained in the fifteen years since that Directive was adopted.

The eIDAS Regulation provides ‘a common foundation for secure electronic interactions between citizens, businesses and public authorities’. It appears to be a genuine digital affairs code, intended to protect all players (citizens, businesses and administrations) with common, shared regulations that ensure an optimum level of security, adapted to particular needs.

 In order to ‘enhance…the trust of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and consumers in the internal market’, the Regulation introduces the notions of qualified trust service and qualified trust service provider ‘with a view to indicating requirements and obligations that ensure high-level security’ of all relevant qualified trust services and products. It should also facilitate SMEs’ access so that they can fully enjoy all the benefits of dematerialisation: lower costs, greater efficiency, better productivity, faster response times and an opening up of the market.

The stated objective is to allow for electronic transactions that are secure, trustworthy and easy to use in order to respond to clients’ legitimate security concerns but also to develop their market. The development of a strong, shared digital identity represents an important security milestone that simplifies exchanges, including those requiring an online signature, so that businesses can develop their activities while reassuring their clients.

Facilitating businesses’ and individuals’ access to cross-border online services will offer an almost ‘immediate’ access to the entire European market. The increase brought about by the Regulation in both public and private online services, as well as economic activities and e-commerce in the EU, should also give rise to fluidity of exchanges. This will particularly affect the healthcare field by improving exchanges that involve medical records, but also significantly lowering healthcare costs and improving responsiveness in patient care, as it will no longer be necessary to repeat examinations from one country to another.

Businesses will be able to ‘operate on a cross-border basis without facing many obstacles in their interactions with public authorities’ thanks to fluidity of exchanges with administrations, better responsiveness and less wasted time. The Regulation should also allow businesses to respond to public calls for tenders throughout the EU.

Finally, businesses, administrations and other organisations such as associations will now be able to affix a stamp in their name to documents, which will thus become admissible as evidence in legal proceedings. Hence the opening up to dematerialisation of almost all procedures for high efficiency, better monitoring and, above all, client satisfaction.

Applicable from July 2016, eIDAS should undoubtedly build trust in electronic transactions and digital technologies, facilitate exchanges and open up new prospects for economic development and uses.