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EC Directive on e-invoicing in Public Procurement

by Carmen Ciciriello created on Sep 12, 2014 04:16 PM
The EC Directive requires the development of a European standard for e-invoicing in public procurement to remove cross border barriers. The Directive clarifies that the future standard will have to build on the results of existing initiatives, such as the CEN Workshop on Business Interoperability Interfaces for Public Procurement in Europe (CEN WS/BII) and of Large Scale Pilots, such as PEPPOL.

In April 2014, the EU Directive on electronic invoicing in public procurement  was approved by the European Council. The scope of the Directive is public procurement, and it applies only to electronic invoices issued by economic operators to whom the public sector contracts or concession contracts have been awarded.

The objective of the Directive is to remove cross-border barriers to interoperability deriving from the existence of differing national rules and standards. To achieve this objective, the Commission is preparing a request to European Standardisation Organisations to develop a European semantic data model: a structured set of terms and their meanings that specify the “core elements” of an electronic invoice, defined as a “European e-Invoicing standard”.

Contracting authorities will be obliged to receive and process all electronic invoices compliant with the European standard, within a limited number of syntaxes (machine readable languages) which will be selected by the European standardisation body. The Directive gives assurance to businesses that their compliant e-Invoices will be accepted by public authorities throughout the EU.

Moreover, the Directive clarifies that the developments of the European standard will have to take into account the results of the CEN Workshop on Business Interoperability Interfaces for Public Procurement in Europe (CEN WS/BII), of the Large Scale Pilots such as PEPPOL, and work of other CEN workshops (such as MUG) and of international standardisation organisations, such as UN/CEFACT and ISO.

The CEN BII Workshop is the only initiative within CEN which focuses on the standardisation of the complete public procurement cycle, aligning its activities to European e-procurement objectives, and developing technical specifications which take into account policy, regulatory and business requirements. The BII workshop was one of the first initiatives to implement the concept of “core” information requirements, as requested by the e-invoicing Directive.

PEPPOL (Pan-European Public Procurement Online) specifications build on the work carried out by the CEN BII Workshop. Therefore, European governments and businesses implementing e-Invoicing through PEPPOL can be reassured about the alignment with interoperability requirements set out in the Directive.

In September 2012, following the successful completion of the PEPPOL project, the OpenPEPPOL Association was set up to maintain and further develop the e-procurement specifications, promoting wider adoption. OpenPEPPOL supported policy makers during the preparatory phase of the e-invoicing Directive, providing insights and publishing a position paper  with detailed recommendations.

Recently, Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe, officially recognised in her blog post PEPPOL as the future of public procurement, positioning PEPPOL at the heart of the e-Procurement strategy of the European Union.

OpenPEPPOL and CEN BII representatives will contribute to the activities of the CEN Project Committee 434, which will lead to the development of the European e-invoicing standard, expected to be finalised by May 2017.

Over the years, BII have built core semantic data models for many documents including the e-Invoice.  These models have a common business term vocabulary, supported by business rules for validation, and designed to be mapped to multiple syntaxes including UBL and UN/CEFACT XML. In particular, the CEN Workshop Agreement 16562 includes technical specifications for Ordering, Invoicing, Billing and Procurement.

The OpenPEPPOL community has extensive knowledge in testing and e-invoicing implementation, with the PEPPOL specifications currently used in 18 European countries, the USA and Canada.

Member States shall adopt the Directive by November 2018. Public and private organisations interested in implementing e-invoicing using European standards can already start benefiting from the work carried out by PEPPOL to ensure compliance and interoperability.

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