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[FYI] Council will adopt common framework for electronic signatu

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/c European Communities, 1999 

 Record Control Number : 12831 
                             Date : 1999-04-26 

Category : Legislation

General Information : 

The Council of the European Union has accepted a proposal for a
Directive on a common framework for electronic signatures. The common
position will be formally adopted, without debate, at a forthcoming
Council session. It will then be transmitted to the European
Parliament for second reading, in accordance with the co-decision

Electronic commerce has the potential to become a key stimulus for the
world economy in the next century, but secure transactions are
essential if this potential is to be realised in Europe. The Directive
concerning electronic signature is intended to remove one of the main
remaining obstacles to cross-border electronic commerce. 

Additionally, electronic signatures will be used in the public sector
within national and community administrations and in communication
between such administrations and with citizens and economic operators,
for example in public procurement, taxation, social security, or the
health and justice systems. 

Different methods exist to sign documents electronically, however the
most recognised form or electronic signature is the so-called
"public-key cryptography". In this system the recipient can find out
whether of not the signed data has been altered and check the origin
of the data by authenticating its source. 

The Directive aims at facilitating the use of electronic signatures as
well as contributing to their legal recognition. It would establish a
legal framework for electronic signatures and certain certification
services in order to ensure the proper functioning of the Internal
market in this rapidly expanding area. 

Although digital signatures based on public-key cryptography are
currently the most recognised form of an electronic signature, the
Common position follows a neutral approach as far as the various
technologies and services capable of authenticating data
electronically are concerned. This approach takes into account the
rapid technological development and the global character of the

In order not to slow down innovation and the development in the
Community of certification services, the Common position stipulates
that their providers should in general be free to offer such services
without prior authorization. 

Data Source Provider : Council of the EU

Document Reference : Based on a press release No 7398/99 of 22.04.1999
from the Council's press service.

Subject Index Codes : Telecommunications; Innovation, Technology
Transfer; Information, Media; Legislation, Regulations