European Forum on Electronic Signature – EFPE 2011 has been successfully finished
On 06 – 08 June 2011 in Międzyzdroje took place the 11th edition of the European Forum on Electronic Signature – EFPE 2011, under the honorary patronage of the Minister of Economy, the Sejm of the Republic of Poland Committee on Innovation and New Technologies, the European Committee for Standardization, the Polish Committee for Standardization and the Polish Chamber of Information Technology and Telecommunications.
This Europe’s largest annual international conference dedicated to electronic signature and PKI was attended by 120 participants from 17 countries: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, USA. Attendees represented the European Commission, public administration offices and agencies, software and hardware solutions suppliers, certification authorities providing e-signature services.
A special emphasis in the conference agenda additionally to lectures and presentations was paid to discussions conducted during two panel discussions with participation of representatives of the European Commission, Government and business experts:
The future of electronic signatures and alternative methods of authentication in the European common market and markets of other countries – the coexistence or competition?
Assessment of the activities and plans of the EU and other countries in the field of electronic identification and authentication that determine development of the EU and cross-border e-services market.
A particular interest among conference participants enjoyed workshop module “Innovations and New Technologies”, where attendees could follow among others the practical application of the electronic identity card eID in Germany. Workshop “WebNotarius – Trust in the Cloud” was the first international preview of a comprehensive service addressed to users of electronic signatures, offering a number of features available in the cloud – such as online e-signature, online verification, repository and archiving of signed documents.
As every year, there was an open exchange of views between the participants of the conference in the field of implemented concepts, technologies and solutions. In particular special attention was paid to problems related to aiming at a single digital market in the European Union, but also discussed in the broader context of global interoperability and cross-border exchange with Russia and the CIS countries (Commonwealth of Independent States) as well as the USA.
As a result of three days of deliberations, at the end of the Conference participants formulated and adopted EFPE 2011 conclusions and recommendations, which are addressed to the representatives of the government co-responsible for the creation of a favorable development of the common electronic market as well as the common European space of trust.
EFPE 2011 Conclusions and recommendations
On the basis of discussions participants of the European Forum on Electronic Signature (EFPE 2011 – Międzyzdroje -8.06.2011 6) identified the main areas of action and demands that as a summary of the three days of EFPE 2011 deliberations will be directed to the appropriate offices and national institutions within the European Union and beyond. In particular, it was decided to refer proposals to the Government of the Republic of Poland as recommendations that could be taken into account during the Polish presidency of the EU.
Actions should be taken to accelerate the introduction of a common electronic market, especially those actions that are in the area of interest of the Digital Agenda for Europe and are important from the point of view of public administration, business and citizens. In the opinion of the participants of the Conference the intensification of activities should primarily focus on work related to the Revision of the eSignature Directive, and Updating the eCommerce Directive. High priority should be given to work on adopting the common European Interoperability Framework Strategy and implemented under the action Interoperability and Standards. Lack of clear rules and regulations leads to further market fragmentation and dismisses the objective to create a common electronic market and common European space of trust.
National solutions within electronic market and in particular electronic signature and the national MS eIDs should be included in the pan-European projects such as STORK, PEPPOL, and the results and experiences of these projects should be respected and used in the design, implementation and systems development in Member States and especially in Poland.
State intervention should be proportional to the problems and the measures appropriate to the objective. In the framework of pan-European projects it should be cooperated with business organizations, that could definitely increase the efficiency of these projects through making the use of experience of operating European service providers, and solutions as well as standards recommended for the administration developed within the projects could be further supported by their use in the business sector.
Public administration should rely on solutions offered by service providers operating in the digital market. They offer solutions based on proven models and European standards.
The aim should be to oblige Member States to establish clear rules and criteria to be fulfilled. If the conditions are fulfilled by other Member Countries, they should, on a reciprocal basis, receive the access to the eID tools of the given country. Due to the free movement of persons it is necessary to use the national eID throughout the EU. The European Union should strongly unify the requirements for widely understood certification services and eID projects related in order to minimize market segmentation and regionalization. Uniform rating of certificates, service providers, signature devices, electronic signatures, and proper leveling of their legal consequences is needed.
Systems used in public administration in Member States should allow the acceptance of electronic signatures of citizens of any EU country including the need to comply with other domains of trust (e.g. Eastern Europe, Asia, USA). Currently the Member Countries directly or indirectly preclude the use of electronic signatures of citizens from other countries.
National problems related to the digital market should be resolved taking into account the European dimension and best practice from other Member States.
Changes in the Signatures Directive should also take into account the EU’s interaction with digital markets of third countries, including those of Asian, American and Eastern European countries.
Conference participants noted that the European projects such as the e-procurement do not take into consideration the global markets outside the European Union and European Economic Community, such as Russia, China, USA. Activity in this area is noticeable in these markets – it is important for the EU countries to also show their willingness to cooperate.
To create new possible applications for electronic signatures, including both qualified and other certificates, is still a valid challenge for government. It should be noted that despite the growing importance of qualified signatures within the Commission work some national administrations are moving away from its use in the further applications. Rather than extend the number of available authentication mechanisms, we are dealing with the removal of qualified signatures, which lose their existing functionality. The use of various types of electronic signatures in the computerization of public administration requires vision, vision based on the risk assessment, which could then be consistently implemented, in place of a simple replacement of the electronic signature by standards and interoperability substitutes created outside the Europe.
Poland during its Presidency of the EU can play a particular role by developing a standard model of cooperation between national administrations of the European Commission in relation to activities supporting removal of further barriers on the way to the creation of digital Community market.
The conference reminds the Commission and Member States of the commitments recently taken in several key initiatives at the EU level: the Digital Agenda for Europe, the European eGovernment Action Plan, and the Single Market Act.
12.1 Digital Agenda for Europe
Key Action 3: In 2011 propose a revision of the eSignature Directive with a view to provide a legal framework for cross-border recognition and interoperability of secure eAuthentication systems;
Key Action 16: Propose by 2012 a Council and Parliament Decision to ensure mutual recognition of e-identification and e-authentication across the EU based on online ‘authentication services’ to be offered in all Member States (which may use the most appropriate official citizen documents – issued by the public or the private sector).
12.2 The European eGovernment Action Plan 2011-2015> KOM(2010)743:
This includes establishing pre-conditions, such as interoperability, eSignatures and eIdentification. These services strengthen the internal market and complement EU legislative acts and their effectiveness in a number of domains where ICT can improve delivery of services; such as in procurement, justice, health, environment, mobility and social security, and support the implementation of citizens’ initiatives with ICT tools. 12.3 Single Market
Ac KOM(2011) 206:
Legislation ensuring the mutual recognition of electronic identification and authentication across the EU and review of the Directive on Electronic Signatures. The objective is to make secure, seamless electronic interaction possible between businesses, citizens and public authorities, thereby increasing the effectiveness of public services and procurement, service provision and electronic commerce (including the cross-border dimension).
Strengthening confidence in electronic transactions is a necessary condition for the development of a digital single market, from which citizens, businesses and public authorities could fully benefit. What is needed in order to do this are trusted electronic services that respect privacy, provide legal certainty, ensure that transactions are secure, work across borders and are recognised by all sectors of activity, but which are cheap and easy to use and which are under the strict control of the transaction parties.
EFPE 2011 Conference Director
Marcin Kalinowski Międzyzdroje, Poland, 8.06.2011