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European standard for e-Invoicing now closer


Directiva europea de contratación pública

On 6 May, Directive 2014/55/EU on electronic invoicing in public procurement was published in the Official Gazette of the European Union. The main aim of this regulation is to establish a European electronic invoicing standard to assure interoperability among the different member States and so provide more facilities for cross-border public tenders and electronic commerce.

The rollout of electronic billing in the Public Sector has become a priority issue in the digital agenda of governments worldwide. In Europe, countries such as Italy, France or Spain are currently immersed in the rollout of this new system, which will allow savings worth millions of euros.

However, so far each State has acted unilaterally, setting out its own standards and legal requirements. This multiplicity of regulations, which lack interoperability, “gives rise to excessive complexity, legal and security and additional operating costs" for the economic stakeholders engaging in cross-border activities.

To avoid this type of problem and increase the advantages associated with use of electronic invoicing, the European Committee for Standardization is creating a common standard of a semantic nature. In other words, a standard that determines the essential elements that must be contained in all electronic invoices, which will facilitate sending and receiving between systems based on different technical norms. In addition, the organism will draw up a list of syntaxes or formats that are already widely used and which comply with the European standard.

Although the CEN is still working towards the creation of the standard, Article 6 of the Directive already sets forth some of the basic fields that must be included in electronic invoices. Among them we find those with information on the supplier, the buyer, the beneficiary, the supplier's tax representative, deductions or debits and the invoice items and sums.


European standard requirements

In addition, according to Article 3, the European standard drawn up by the CEN shall be subject to the following requirements:

  • Must be technologically neutral.
  • Compatible with the relevant international electronic billing standards.
  • Must take into account the need for protection of personal data, in accordance with Directive 95/46/CE.
  • Must be coherent with the provisions of Directive 2006/112/EC.
  • Must allow the setting up of practical, user-friendly, flexible and profitable electronic invoicing systems.
  • Must take into account the special needs of small and medium-sized businesses, as well as those of sub-central adjudicating authorities and adjudicating bodies.
  • Must be able to be used in business transactions between companies.

The member States must adopt, publish and apply the provisions of Directive 2014/55/EU before 27 November 2018. The aim is to achieve full interoperability on three levels: the invoice content, its format and the transmission method.

These measures will also contribute to the spread of electronic invoicing in the public and private sectors. Implementation of the European standard will potentiate the traditional benefits of this electronic document: greater savings, lower environmental impact and an important reduction of the administrative burden.

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