Towards wider use of e-signatures and secure e-transactions in

Daniela Bartolo | Published on 18 Sep 2012

Chetcuti Cauchi Lawyers

The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, has proposed a Regulation aimed at ensuring that individuals and legal entities can use the national electronic identification (e-ID) to access public services in other EU member states where e-IDs are available.

Identified key beneficiaries of the proposed Regulation include citizens seeking to relocate, get married or file tax returns in another member state. It also targets individuals setting up companies who may submit annual reports online or tender online for public sector contracts anywhere in the EU by sealing their bids electronically instead of filing paper work.
 
While not introducing a European e-ID nor creating a European database, the proposed Regulation has been deemed as an opportunity for ensuring that online services may be accessed across different member states and have the same legal status as traditional paper-based processes. This has been seen as a step towards increasing the effectiveness and of public and private online services for individuals and businesses alike and a step towards facilitating eBusiness and electronic commerce in the EU.
 
Since the proposed regulation does not oblige EU member states to introduce eID solutions or a national identity card system, it rests with individuals member states to opt-in in the scheme proposed by the Regulation "on electronic identification and trusted services for electronic transactions in the internal market". Once member states notify that they wish to join the scheme, they must offer the same access to public services via e-ID that they offer to their own citizens.
 
The proposed regulation supplements also the current eSignature Directive and sets common rules and practices for the use of eSignatures in the conducting of cross-border electronic signatures.

The proposal will now go through the ordinary legislative procedure for its adoption by co-decision of the European Parliament and the Council.

Reaffirming its leading position for its e-Government services, Malta has already fully embraced the concept of e-IDs. Modeled on the ‘one-stop-shop’ concept that is strengthening Malta’s position as a jurisdiction of choice of the financial services, gaming and shipping industry, among other industries, many government services may be accessed and availed of through an e-ID.  Plans are underway for the launching of another 300 online government services. 

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