Member State IT Experts Urge Reform of the ECI

2015-12-03 News

At the recent high-level eGOV conference, a top Luxembourg IT official, Mr. Lionel Antunes, presented several proposals for ECI reform. These have also been endorsed by government IT leaders from Austria and Germany. They go much further to improve the ECI’s digital dimension than the first reform proposals presented by the Council in June 2015.

The vast majority of ECIs have been hosted on Commission servers located in Luxembourg. A couple ECIs have been hosted on independent servers in Germany. The country where the server is located must certify the ECI’s online collection system (OCS). Therefore, no other Member State has experience with the ECI’s online dimension comparable to that of Luxembourg and Germany. IT officials from these two countries, plus Austria, propose that the Commission:

  • Modify the ECI timeline so ECI organisers may pick the starting date of the 12 month signature collection period. This would give both ECI organisers and Member State IT officials sufficient time to set up and certify the online signature collection system (OCS) before campaign launch.
  • Simplify the technical implementing Regulation (2011/1179) to make it easier for organisers and hosting companies to implement the ECI. Alternative approaches to the formal ISO/IEC 27k and SoGP should be allowed. Requirements on version and patch management should be reconsidered and a risk-based approach used instead of detailed list of requirements.
  • Offer a free centralised online platform for the ECI that provides a solid digital infrastructure. In Mr. Antunes’ view, such a platform is the most cost-effective approach. It would also let ECI organisers focus on campaigning.
  • Develop synergies between the ECI and eIDAS, an initiative to unify electronic identification services across the EU. The eIDAS Regulation covers online authentication and electronic signatures. Some tools already exist (TSL, DS-DSS, ECAS) so there is no need to duplicate them.

Implementing all of these recommendations would require revisions of both the ECI Regulation 2011/211 and its technical implementing Regulation 2011/1179 governing the ECI’s online signature collection software. Given the importance of the ECI’s digital dimension to its ultimate success, we trust that the Commission will act on these recommendations.