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Electronic invoicing in Europe

30/06/2015

For the last decade, the European Union has moved towards the integration of a paperless billing system, an e-invoicing model that will ensure the authenticity and integrity of generated documents as well as the improvement on the control of payments and reduction of obstacles in the market. Back in the year 2010, the European Commission set the ambitious goal of making e-invoicing the main method of invoicing in Europe by 2020. This has resulted in a European electronic invoicing full of particularities.

In Europe, the use of electronic invoicing has considerably grown during the last years. In 2009, the electronic share of total invoice volume was of an 8 %, according to Billentis’ “The impact of B2G E-Invoicing to the whole economy” report. This share has climbed up to a 24 % in 2014, and is expected to keep on growing. But how is e-invoicing in Europe different to e-invoicing in other regions?

 

A B2G model

While in regions like Latin America e-invoicing is expanding as mandatory within the private sector, in Europe digital billing is being used by government administrations to improve management and cut down on payment delays. On this B2G invoicing scenario, it is the Administration and its suppliers that ones who must comply.

Numbers prove that even on this scale the digitalization of bills is relevant: the public sector is responsible for up to 18 % of all purchases made in a country, and up to 65 % of all companies are suppliers for the public sector and send invoices to their administrations.

 

An e-invoicing regulation for all member states

In Europe it is the Council of the European Union who’s in charge of regulating the electronic invoicing panorama through the Council Directive 2010/45/EU. This directive focuses on the need to guarantee the origin and authenticity of electronic documents. It is established that e-Invoices can be sent via three methods: through an electronic data interchange (EDI); by applying advanced electronic signatures to the invoice; or through alternative mechanisms.

 

Particularities across countries

Even if there is a common regulation, European countries are developing their own legislation to transpose this directive to their own judicial framework. This is causing an irregular integration into a mandatory electronic invoicing schema, with countries such as Spain, Italy or Slovenia joining in 2015. This particularities also affect the electronic invoice format. Even if according to the latest EU VAT directive all invoices must contain a minimum set of data, countries are still developing XML-based formats that will adapt to their own requirements.

 

E-invoicing in Europe with EDICOM

When working on an international level, the last thing a company wants to stop and think about is how to issue an invoice for each particular country. This is why EDICOM has developed a full International E-invoicing Platform, which can perfectly meet the European Union requirements and link up with the invoice receiving platforms with the public services of different countries.

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