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E-invoicing standard a step closer in Europe

The European Commission has moved a step closer to defining a European e-invoicing standard for public procurement (B2G), as the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) has given unanimous approve to the invoice model and syntaxes. Specifically, CEN, the committee mandated by the Commission to define the European e-invoicing standard, has approved:

  • EN 16931-1 – Core semantic data (invoice) model; and
  • EN 16931-2 – List of syntaxes

This is part of work on the EU's Directive 2014/55/EU on e-invoicing in public procurement. CEN has not yet approved other parts of the invoice standard but expects to published the final standard in the coming months. This news was announced on E-invoicing Platform, an independent platform for e-invoicing professionals.

E-invoicing Platform lists four barriers to e-invoice adoption as follow:

1. Intellectual property

The intellectual property of the work done by CEN is owned by CEN. As a consequence not all documents regarding the new European E-invoicing Standard will be freely available. And free access to this information is quintessential for massive adoption of the new standard.

2. Proliferation of restrictions

Currently it is envisaged that national extensions of the EN16931 European Electronic Invoice Standard will not be legally binding. However, under the Core Invoice Usage Specification (CIUS), it is expected that restrictions will be allowed to proliferate, increasing complexity and insecurity.

3. 99% of European businesses are SMEs/sole-proprietors

Small businesses rely heavily on their administrative software to produce e-invoices, which they send by e-mail. Administrative software providers will therefore be crucial to achieving high rates of use for the e-invoicing standard.4

4. Adding rather than replacing complexity

The European Union is adding a new e-invoicing standard, with at least two syntaxes (UBL and UN/CEFACT CII), to an existing landscape. And even though a standard should reduce complexity (which was the aim), this will only increase complexity in the European business landscape. Why? Because the new standard only has a mandated monopoly in the B2G environment. In the business to business environment current standards will continue to proliferate.

CTMfile take: As stated above, these e-invoicing standards will only apply when public entities invoice their suppliers. What corporates really need is an e-invoicing standard for the B2B environment.

This item appears in the following sections:
Payments - Bill Collection
Billing Systems & e-Invoicing

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