Building online trust and confidence: the role of eIDAS and digital identity

Source: A. (Andrus) Ansip i, published on Friday, July 1 2016.

Raising confidence in the online world is an essential part of building a Digital Single Market. Today, Europe is taking a major step towards this goal, with rules now applying directly in all 28 EU countries for electronic 'trust services': online services where users require a degree of security and trust, such as electronic signatures.

From July 1, everyone in the EU - individuals, businesses, public administrations - will be able to access services safely, carry out online transactions and even set up a business in other EU countries. An electronic signature will be recognised in the same way as a handwritten one, across the EU.

The same principles also apply to electronic seals, documents and delivery services, as well as time stamps and website authentication. Life will become easier in a wide range of areas, from filing tax returns, enrolling in a foreign university or remotely opening a bank account to authenticating internet payments for online shopping or bidding in online tenders.

This is the latest stage in putting the eIDAS regulation into full effect across Europe.


As of today, we have a European internal market for cross-border trust services and - for the first time - the principle of non-discrimination of electronic documents, established EU-wide.

So, if you send a registered e-mail from Germany to Greece, it will be legally recognised as being sent and received at a given time and, crucially, recognised by courts in a dispute.

I think this is particularly important. It is only by providing certainty of the legal validity of all these trust services - giving them the same status as traditional paper-based processes - that people and businesses will gain the confidence to go fully digital. Borders effectively cease to exist.

eIDAS promotes and improves trust, security and convenience online - for shoppers, for government, and for business.

It helps Europe to move from a patchwork of national online markets to an integrated Digital Single Market (DSM) where commercial and public services can flow easily and seamlessly across borders.

To reinforce the sense of trust and reassurance, to show that internet users can carry out their online transactions in a safe, convenient and secure way, we also have the EU trust mark:


This is a visible and verified logo that will be displayed on websites across Europe. It will reassure people that those online services can be trusted and that they are of an EU-regulated quality in compliance with eIDAS rules. It will reassure you, for example, that the certificate that you are using to sign an important contract will be legally recognised throughout Europe.

The challenge now is to get people to make more use of trust services but also of electronic IDs so that they become "business as usual": online services that go beyond national borders and across all sectors, in particular financial, banking, transport, healthcare and public administration.

In today's fast moving digital world, people want - and need - to be able to manage and authenticate their identities online, safely and conveniently.

These are exactly the principles of eIDAS.

Take mobile payments, which are becoming a firm reality in Europe and represent a good alternative to cash payments. They depend on secure digital identities as the basis for online authentication. This is a sector with massive growth potential, with many opportunities to make more use of eIDAS.

But these are only the first steps towards widespread and everyday use of eIDAS services.

Increasing trust in the digital world is not simple or quick. There is still a long way to go, especially in terms of raising awareness.

While creating the right legal environment is of course vital, it is not enough on its own. We need to put it firmly into practice and make it work.

For these reasons, we have just set up the eIDAS Observatory. This is an online network that is open to anyone interested in eIDAS - from both public and private sectors - to exchange views and positions, share ideas and good practices.

The idea is for it to become a network of experts and specialists that can contribute towards the implementation and uptake of eIDAS services. Please do not hesitate to get involved;

building a common understanding of the issues will help us in our work to build a DSM.

We cannot get the best out of the opportunities offered by digital tools and online networks if we do not trust them. As I always say, trust is a must - across the board, whether in the constant fight against cybercrime, misuse of consumers' personal data, or for strengthening the rights of online shoppers.

Trust, convenience, security: these are what people expect from a well-functioning DSM.

Another blog soon.