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What you need to know about electronic signature in the EU today

From 1st July 2016, people, businesses and public administrations are able to carry out convenient, secure and legally valid electronic transactions across borders.

EU rules on electronic signatures, electronic seals, time stamps, electronic delivery service and website authentication, as well as electronic documents apply directly across the 28 Member States.

Who provides the electronic signature?

The electronic signature with legal value throughout Europe must be issued by a Qualified Trust Service Provider.

TrustPro is a Qualified Trust Service Provider

TrustPro guarantees to third parties all around EU that you are you!

It works like with credit cards: the bank circuit that issues it guarantees the credit of the person who uses it, while TrustPro guarantees your identity!

How do I know if a company is truly a Qualified Trust Service Provider?

Qualified trust services provider in Europe (e.g. issuance of qualified certificates for electronic signatures or seals, qualified timestamping services) are listed in national ‘trusted lists’ in all European Union and European Economic Area member-states.

Those lists can be accessed through the Trusted List Browser, an online tool provided by the European Commission to ease the process of finding trust services. 

EU trust mark

The EU trust mark for qualified trust services cannot be used for a service which is not qualified

The EU trust mark is a logo which tells users that they can trust a certain service online to carry out their online transactions in a safe, convenient and secure way.

The EU trust mark gives the assurance that the providers of electronic trust services and the trust services offered by them are qualified and comply with the rules set out in the eIDAS Regulation, thus ensuring a high quality which is regulated throughout the EU.

As of 1 July 2016, all trust service providers, who have received the qualified status in line with the eIDAS Regulation, can use the EU trust mark to indicate in a simple, recognizable and clear manner the qualified trust services they provide.

Legal effects of electronic signatures

EU Regulation No 910/2014 – Article 25

1. An electronic signature shall not be denied legal effect and admissibility as evidence in legal proceedings solely on the grounds that it is in an electronic form or that it does not meet the requirements for qualified electronic signatures. 

2. A qualified electronic signature shall have the equivalent legal effect of a handwritten signature. 

3. A qualified electronic signature based on a qualified certificate issued in one Member State shall be recognised as a qualified electronic signature in all other Member States

What is a qualified electronic signature valid in all Europe?

Differences between qualified and non-qualified electronic signatures.

As specified in eIDAS Regulation there is no single electronic signature. Electronic signatures are divided into three categories, depending on the technology used and the level of security and privacy offered to the user. In particular, European Regulation speaks of:

In the eIDAS Regulation both qualified and non-qualified electronic signatures (simple and advanced) benefit from a non-discrimination clause as evidence in Courts. In other words, trust services cannot be discarded by the judge only on the grounds that they are in an electronic form.

However, because of the more stringent requirements applicable to qualified trust service providers, qualified electronic signatures provide a stronger specific legal effect than non-qualified ones as well as a higher technical security.

Qualified trust services therefore provide higher legal certainty and higher security of electronic signatures.

Qualified certificates for electronic signatures are provided by entities which have been granted a qualified status by a national competent authority as indicated in the national ‘trusted lists’ of the EU Member State. Those lists can be accessed through the Trusted List Browser.

While different levels of electronic signatures may be appropriate in different contexts,

only qualified electronic signatures are explicitly recognized to have the equivalent legal effect of hand-written signatures all over the EU