The European Parliament and the Council reached an agreement, on 25 February, on a European system of e-identification. The last remaining point of disagreement concerned dates for implementation, but following the negotiations, member states will now recognise e-identification notified by other member states on a voluntary basis from mid-2015. From mid-2018, they will be obliged to do so.

By July 2016, all member states must establish the legal framework for such mutual recognition for all services:aelectronic signatures, seals, time stamps certifying the date of a document, and website authentication.

The European Commission must still create implementing acts clarifying the criteria documents must meet on security, insurance, responsibility and protection of personal data.

These acts, to be developed in cooperation with member states, should contribute to increased confidence between member states. However, several member states expressed reluctance during negotiations, particularly Germany, which already has a well-developed system of e-identification.

Mutual recognition does not require member states to modify their existing national systems. Therefore it is the national rules of the state of origin that will apply regarding responsibility. Parliament had hoped that countries would be systematically responsible, but this did not happen in practice.

States that allow companies to use official electronic documents in their transactions will...

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