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eIDAS From Directive To Regulation

eIDAS From Directive To Regulation

eIDAS has made it easier for citizens and businesses of the European Union to electronically sign documents within Member States that utilize electronic identification schemes (eIDS).

This post breifly explains the implications of eIDAS within the European Union.

The eIDAS regulation defines the conditions for recognizing eIDS by creating standards for creating and verifying said signatures that will allow electronic transactions to be treated in the same regard as if they were written by hand on paper.

However, there has been some confusion and controversy over this regulation regarding its legal binding and applicability within the EU since it has transformed from its original form as a directive to its existing status as a regulation.

The Difference between a Directive and Regulation

Some of the confusion surrounding the eIDAS regulation can be traced to a misunderstanding of how directives and regulations are applied within the EU as the regulation has evolved from DIRECTIVE 1999/93/EC. Directives and regulations are not the same and carry different implications for EU Member States:

  • New Call-to-actionA directive is an act that sets a goal for all Member states to achieve, such as was the case with DIRECTIVE 1999/93/EC. The individual states were charged with the responsibility to create their own laws to meet the goals specified in that directive for creating a system for electronic signing throughout the EU.
  • A regulation is a binding legislative act that requires all Member states to follow. It must be followed in its entirety throughout the EU. This is the case with eIDAS as it formally adopted on July 1, 2014, and will become directly applicable throughout the EU from July 1, 2016.

Therefore, simply put, a directive provides a framework for individual Member states to create their own national laws, while a regulation is a law that will apply in all EU countries. This means as of July 1, 2016, as an EU regulation, eIDAS is legally binding in all EU member states.

Image: "European Flag", courtesy of Rock Cohen, Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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