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Specialist Task Force 425: Electronic Signature Standardisation in Rationalised Framework

Who we are:

Team Leader: Olivier Delos
Team Members: Nick Pope (Editor)
Marjo Geers
Béatrice Peirani
Paloma Llaneza Gonzales
Juan Carlos Cruellas Ibarz
Peter Lipp
In-kind members:
Antoine de Lavernette
Stefan Santesson

What we do:

As of today the electronic signatures standardization landscape is rather complex and does not offer a clear mapping with the requirements of directive 1999/93/EC on a community framework for electronic signatures. The current multiplicity of standardisation deliverables together with the lack of usage guidelines, the difficulty in identifying the appropriate standards and lack of business orientation is detrimental to the interoperability of electronic signatures. Also due to the fact that many of the documents have yet to be progressed to full European Norms (ENs), their status may be considered to be uncertain.

 It has resulted in a lack of truly interoperable e-signature applications and in a lack of trust in the existing framework. We particularly face problems with the mutual recognition and cross-border interoperability of electronic signatures. A few interoperability events have been held. These have yet to be developed to the extent that they provide full conformance tests and cover all areas of standardization. 

 The definition of a rationalised framework for electronic signature standards will overcome those issues and will allow business stakeholders to more easily implement and use products and services based on electronic signatures.

 In line with the Standardisation mandate m460 to CEN and ETSI on electronic signatures, STF425 is aimed at establishing a structure for such a rationalised framework. 

 This will include the following activities:

  • Providing an inventory of eSignature standards,
  • Developing a rationalised structure for the European e-signatures standardisation documents,
  • Performance of a gap analysis – an assessment of the existing e-signatures standardisation deliverables, and
  • A future work plan.

The result of STF425 work will give a rationalised structure for e-signature standardisation and a detailed work programme for subsequent phases to bring current standardisation in line with the rationalised framework.

 Subsequent phases (not covered by the present STF), to be supported by both ESOs (ETSI and CEN) will include the following activities:

  • Development of guidelines for each of the areas of the rationalised framework,
  • Supporting the progression of the e-signature specifications through to European Norms (EN),
  • Further activities needed to complete the rationalised framework as identified by STF425,
  • Procedures and practices for conformance assessment and interoperability testing of signature creation and verification systems as well as certification service providers.
Also, preparation of interoperability tests events (both remote and face to face) of signature creation and verification systems, including the necessary infrastructure.

For more details, see our Terms of Reference

Why we do it:

The definition of a rationalised framework for electronic signature standards will allow business stakeholders to easily implement and use products and services based on electronic signatures. It will allow a harmonized use of electronic signatures in line with Directive 1999/93/EC and will favour the take up of electronic signature standards by the industry. This will result in a simplified access of enterprises and citizens to cross-border electronic public services.

How we do it:

The STF will provide a Special Report (SR) according to the following drafts provisioning:

  • A first draft SR containing the draft rationalised framework and an annex with the inventory,
  • A consolidated draft SR containing a stable framework and annexes for the inventory, as well as a gap analysis and a  work plan,
  • A final draft SR.

 Coordination with various stakeholders including European member states, standards organizations and European projects will be necessary to achieve the best outcome of this work and the widest possible collection of views amongst all parties concerned. In particular, the experts will aim to establish connection with entities including the Services Directive expert group, PEPPOL, SPOCS, FESA, STORK, IETF, OASIS, ISO, W3C, and CAB Forum.

 Members of those entities and projects but also users and implementers of electronic signatures standards will be invited to join a stakeholder contact list through which they will be kept informed on the progress of the work. Those stakeholders will be consulted at various points during the work. They will in particular be consulted when the first draft rationalized framework will be issued so as to get their comments and feedback. Electronic comments will be encouraged via the contact list. A register of comments received through this list will be maintained by the STF.

A stakeholder workshop will be organised (21st of November 2011 in Paris) on behalf of CEN and ETSI to which all stakeholders will be invited. The draft rationalised framework will be presented at this workshop. Information collected at the workshop and from public review will be fed back into the rationalized framework.

The final published deliverable will be freely available for download from ETSI.


The STF will provide the following ETSI deliverables:

  • Rationalised Framework for Electronic Signature Standardisation (DSR/ESI-000099)

The first draft Special Report (DSR) is available to stakeholders until 28 October 2011 through the following link:
Draft Rationalised Framework for Electronic Signature Standardisation

It contains: 

o   Rationalised Framework for Electronic Signature Standardisation  - Draft Special Report

o    Annex C – Inventory of existing standardisation – Excel version

o    Annex C – Inventory of existing standardisation – PDF version

 Comments are welcome through email to  

An updated version of the DSR will be presented at the stakeholder workshop that will be held 21st November 2011 taking into account the received comments.

Time plan:

Start date: 28-02-2011.

End date: 30-04-2012 (planned).

How to contact us:

If you would like more information and/or be added to the stakeholders list, please contact the STF Leader:

For subscribing to the mailing list (Subscribe to the E-SIGNATURES_NEWS mailing list).


This information is based upon STF working assumptions.
The views expressed do not necessarily represent the position of ETSI in this context.

Last updated: 2013-04-13 17:33:42