There is a big change coming in terms of the legal recognition of electronic signatures in Europe. Take a look below on what the new regulations will promise in terms of making cross-border trusted transactions easier and how we are ensuring the DocuSign platform remains the trusted global platform for providing secure online digital transaction management.

What is the new eIDAS Regulation?

On 1st July, eIDAS will repeal and replace the 17 year-old Electronic Signatures Directive (1999/93/EC) across the European Union. The Directive originally intended to provide a legal framework to encourage and facilitate the use of electronic signatures across the European Community. But it fell short of its ambition and the adoption of electronic signatures has been sluggish.

The European Commission observed that the Directive was implemented haphazardly by Member States and this has made it, in the words of the Commission, “de facto impossible to conduct cross-border electronic transactions.”  As a Directive, it gave EU Member States discretion over implementation into local law, and this led to the promotion of local esignature standards which were not recognised by other Member States. Ultimately, the European Commission realized that the Directive was hampering its flagship Digital Single Market strategy – which is all about driving cross-border e-commerce – and this would require legal reform.

Additionally, the Directive was increasingly unfit for the digital age. It was drafted with hardware-based smartcard and handheld USB token technologies in mind, and failed to account for new technologies that have emerged since 1999, including mobile technologies and the Cloud.  

How does eiDAS alter business in North America?

The eIDAS will have mandatory, direct effect and apply uniformly across all 28 EU Member States, preventing the inconsistencies of the previous Electronic Signatures Directive. It also builds upon several innovations of the original Directive, taking them one step further to align with Digital Single Market strategy. One of these original, continuing innovations is the creation of specific electronic signature types which are recognized across the EU, including:

  •      Electronic Signature: Any signature in electronic form used to sign an electronic contract.
  •     Advanced Electronic Signature: One type of electronic signature with more stringent requirements for verifying the signer’s identity and binding it to the document.
  •      Qualified Electronic Signature: Another type of electronic signature that meets all the requirements of an Advanced Electronic Signature, but must be backed by a certificate from an organisation certified as a “Qualified Trust Service Provider”, and produced using a “Qualified Signature Creation Device”.

Not only will the new directly effective Regulation ensure uniformity across the EU, it will address the existing problem of different national rules on electronic signatures. Due to its uniformity, the Regulation would increase cross-border digital transactions between member states and on business transactions with North American Enterprises.

DocuSign’s “Invest for Europe” initiative

With the coming enforcement of this new EU Regulation, DocuSign would like to introduce the “Invest for Europe” initiative. With the newly launched Standards-Based Signatures capabilities, the DocuSign platform will now allow companies to automate and manage their digital workflows while natively providing eSignatures that comply with the eIDAS regulation and its recommended EU technical standards. Additionally, our expanded Partner Program for EU Trust Service Providers and Certificate Authorities (CA’s) give companies of all sizes a choice of partners to help compete at speed and scale in a market where eSignatures are now standardized across the EU.

Want to know more about all the investments in the “Invest for Europe” initiative? Take a peek here.