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Brussels, 24 January 2014
Commissioner Barnier welcomes the trilogue agreement on e-invoicing in public procurement
I congratulate the European Parliament and the Council on having reached agreement on the draft directive on e-invoicing in public procurement. This agreement - endorsed by the Member States today - will contribute to eliminating barriers to cross-border public procurement. It will also ensure interoperability between national e-invoicing systems and, ultimately, a better functioning of the Single Market. I would like to thank the European Parliament, especially the rapporteur, Birgit Collin-Langen and the shadow rapporteurs, as well as the Greek and Lithuanian Presidencies for their work on this file.
Provided that the e-invoices sent by a company are compliant with the forthcoming European standard on e-invoicing in public procurement, they will ultimately be accepted by all public authorities throughout Europe.
E-invoicing is an important step towards paperless public administration (e-government) in Europe – one of the priorities of the Digital Agenda - and offers the potential for significant economic as well as environmental benefits. The adoption of e-invoicing in public procurement alone across the EU could generate savings of up to €2.3 billion.
Supporting modern and efficient public administrations in the EU is a priority for the European Commission. The new rules will greatly simplify the processing of e-invoices for both governments and businesses including SMEs. By agreeing on the establishment of a common EU standard for e-invoicing in public procurement, interoperable with existing national standards and ensuring acceptance of e-invoices sent in this standard, we have prevented the creation of a new barrier to the Single Market and reduced complexity for all parties involved. This shows that European policies can be an important driver for simplification. Switching from paper to fully automated invoicing will significantly cut the costs of receiving and processing an invoice, and contribute to the fight against fraud. These are good and useful savings, particularly in the current economic climate.
On 26 June 2013, the European Commission proposed a draft Directive on e-invoicing in public procurement (IP/13/608). The main objectives of the new rules are:
To allow interoperability of e-invoices sent across the EU
The directive on electronic invoicing in public procurement proposes the establishment of a European e-invoicing standard which is expected to improve interoperability between different, mainly national, e-invoicing systems.
It aims to eliminate legal uncertainty, excessive complexity, and additional operating costs for economic operators who currently have to use different electronic invoices across the Member States. It will also help boost the uptake of e-invoicing in Europe which remains very low, accounting for only 4-15% of all invoices exchanged.
To create benefits for economic operators and contracting authorities
Launching the process for the creation of a European standard and ensuring that e-invoices sent in this standard will be accepted EU-wide will provide greater certainty for economic operators. In fact, this initiative gives assurance to enterprises that the initial investment in e-invoicing will produce e-invoices accepted by all public authorities across the EU – provided that the e-invoices sent by the economic operator are compliant with the forthcoming European standard. At the same time, the creation of the e-invoicing standard will allow contracting authorities to receive e-invoices from operators from any EU country, as long as they are compatible with European standard. This will result in greater simplification for both contracting authorities economic operators which will not have to invest in multiple e-invoicing solutions to be able to send or receive e-invoices sent from other EU Member States.
According to studies carried out by the Member States, the potential savings are of several orders of magnitude larger than the implementation costs and the initial investment can be amortised within a very short period of time (1 to 2 years maximum, in many cases even shorter).
To progress on the transition to end-to-end procurement
Agreeing on the development of a European standard for e-invoicing will contribute to the digitisation of another step of the public procurement procedure. For instance, the introduction of e-invoicing can contribute to the automation of other phases of the public procurement procedure such as e-archiving.
The digitisation of public procurement, while contributing to the reduction of public procurement expenditure, also fosters innovation and cross-border public procurement. The transition to end-to-end e-procurement can generate all these benefits and more: it can result in significant savings and simplification for market actors, and initiate structural re-thinking of certain areas of public administration. It can also facilitate SME participation in public procurement by reducing administrative burden, by increasing transparency over business opportunities, and by lowering participation costs.
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