New digital certificate to sell electrical products in the EU

London, UK

European regulators are compelling suppliers to use Qualified e-Seal Certificates to register and label their products for use in Europe. The European Product Registry for Energy Labelling (EPREL) is instructing those suppliers to use Qualified e-Seal Certificates to access their online database so that they can verify their legal registration status in the EU.

Stephen Davidson, Senior Manager in Digicert’s global Governance, Risk and Compliance team, comments on the new certificate and looks at some of the questions that might arise as result of these new regulations. "Energy efficiency labels on products are longstanding and successful policy tools to save energy and money for consumers. In the United States, consumers may recognise the bright yellow Energyguide labels which have been used on major electrical appliances for many years."

What is EPREL?

EPREL is the body that governs product labelling in the EU. EPREL includes a database hosted by the EU Commission, where suppliers (including manufacturers, importers or authorised representatives) must register their product models which require an energy label before selling them in the EU/EEA market.

Which products need an energy label?

The EU energy labelling law applies to a wide array of products, including kitchen and laundry appliances, refrigeration and air conditioning, boilers and water heaters, electronic displays such as monitors and TVs, tires, and even lightbulbs. Any products that use a lot of energy may be required to have an EPREL energy label.

The EPREL database

The EPREL product database holds both the public Energy Label and product information sheet, as well as technical information accessible only to national regulators for use in their compliance and control activities. In 2021 EPREL started providing online access to many of these products, allowing enhanced information to be accessed via QR codes on product labels. Consumers can scan this QR code for information such as energy efficiency, product dimensions, the minimum warranty, etc.

Thousands of suppliers have already registered over a million products in EPREL, and those numbers are expected to continue to grow. To accommodate this growth, EPREL made the process fully electronic in February 2022. Suppliers can now quickly verify both their legal registration status in the EU and the authority of their representative to make filings in the EPREL database.

E-Seal Certificates used for EPREL

EPREL has chosen to use Qualified e-Seal Certificates governed by the Electronic Identification and Trust Services (eIDAS) Regulation (known as eIDAS) to accomplish this. A Qualified e-Seal Certificate is similar to an electronic signature, but it is issued on behalf of a legal entity rather than an individual. The e-Seal verifies the identity of the company and can be used to bulk sign large volumes at once.

Qualified certificates for electronic seals are provided by Qualified Trust Service Providers (also known as qTSP), which are audited under the eIDAS requirements and then supervised by national regulators.

How to get an e-Seal Certificate to register for EPREL

To register for EPREL, suppliers should first get a Qualified e-Seal Certificate from a qTSP like Digicert + Quovadis, and then visit the EPREL system to begin the registration process.

This produces a verification file as a PDF which can then be signed by the supplier’s authorised representative using the Qualified e-Seal Certificates.

More information for suppliers on how to sign up for the EPREL system can be obtained from Digicert. Suppliers should get their e-Seal Certificates as soon as possible to ensure their products can remain visible in EPREL.

A globally trusted Certificate Authority and qTSP, Digicert offers Qualified e-Seal Certificates, and with Digicert Document Signing Manager, organisations can simplify signup and automate digital signing

Will e-Seals be the future of regulatory requirements?

"This instance is yet another example of the EU adoption of Qualified Trust Services for sectors with strong regulatory requirements or legal consequences. Similar requirements were implemented in 2019 for payment service providers (PSD2) and I expect to see more sectors adopting e-Seals and Qualified Web Authentication Certificates (QWACs) to authenticate digital identity in the future. It’s possible that the U.S. and other countries may adopt a similar system, as Europe has been leading the way in digital identities. We recommend that companies start planning now for a future built on verified digital identity and look to adopt solutions like Document Signing Manager, which can make digital certificate management easier," concludes Davidson.


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