NESSIE (New European Schemes for Signature, Integrity, and Encryption) is a 3-year project within the Information Societies Technology (IST) Programme of the European Commission. It was initialized in early 2000, and the aim is to "put forward a portfolio of strong cryptographic primitives."
The effort can be viewed as an European counterpart to the AES project, but the scope of NESSIE is considerably wider. NESSIE is looking for primitives in a number of categories ranging from symmetric block ciphers and stream ciphers to asymmetric encryption and signature schemes.
Provided that the appropriate consensus around the eventually selected algorithms is built, the NESSIE project will have a great impact on future applications of cryptography in Europe.
RSA Laboratories has submitted three algorithms to the NESSIE project: RC6 Block Cipher, RSA-OAEP Encryption Scheme, and RSA-PSS Signature Scheme with Appendix.
Parallel to the NESSIE project, ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 27 (International Organization for Standardization/ International Electrotechnical Commission, Joint Technical Committee 1/Subcommittee 27) is looking for symmetric and asymmetric encryption algorithms in their NP 18033 project. SC27 will not perform any evaluations and tests on its own; instead it will rely on results provided by the submitters and other resources such as NESSIE.
The selected algorithms will be included in an ISO/IEC standard; it seems reasonable to anticipate this standard to align with the NESSIE selections and existing standards such as IEEE P1363.
Via the Swedish national SC27 member body, RSA Laboratories has submitted RC6 Block Cipher and RSA-OAEP Encryption Scheme to NP 18033; RSA-OAEP has been submitted also via the U.S. member body.
The Information-technology Promotion Agency (IPA) in Japan has initiated the CRYPTREC project with goals similar to those of the AES project - the aim is to define standard cryptographic algorithms for use within the Japanese government. Like NESSIE, the scope is wider than for the AES project.
RSA Laboratories has submitted three algorithms via RSA Security Japan to IPA: RC6 Block Cipher, RSA-OAEP Encryption Scheme, and RSA-PSS Signature Scheme with Appendix.