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The European Commission requested this study on the legal and practical issues of the implementation of the Electronic Signature Directive (EU Directive 1999/93 on a Community Framework for electronic signatures and on the practical usage of electronic signatures and related services on the European Market). The main objective of this study was to provide an analysis of national legislation implementing the Directive in the EU Member States, as well as an analysis of the legal situation on electronic signatures in the EEA and Candidate Countries.
The paper also analyzed the main practical and commercial usage of electronic signatures in the countries concerned, with a special focus on the technologies used, interoperability issues and the use of open standards. In the field of e-government, the report found that the "public sector exception" introduced by the Directive (i.e., the possibility for Member States to edict additional requirements for the use of electronic signatures in the public sector) lacks clarity and consistency, and that it could be detrimental to the Internal Market by resulting in the erection of national barriers, increased fragmentation and lack of interoperability.