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E-invoicing, SCF & E-procurement

EU e-invoicing standard gets unanimous approval

Wednesday 22 March 2017 | 08:49 AM CET

The European Commission has announced that a decision has been taken on the European eInvoicing standard (EN), pursuant to Directive 2014/55/EU on e-invoicing in public procurement.

The European Commission mandated the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) to define the European E-invoicing standard. Following intense deliberations, CEN announced that the invoice model and its syntaxes received unanimous approval:

The EN 16931-1 – Core semantic data (invoice) model, approved with 25 positive votes, no negative votes (100%);

The EN 16931-2 – List of syntaxes, approved with 24 positive votes, no negative votes (100%);

Still under approval:

CEN/TS 16931-3 Syntax bindings
CEN/TS 16931-4 Guidelines at transmission level
CEN/TS 16931-5 Extension methodology
CEN/TS 16931-6 Test methodology and test results

In light of a successful vote, the Committee expects to be on track to publish the final standard in the coming months. Once this has been achieved, the European Commission believes the real work of supporting e-invoicing, using the European standard, can begin.

However, there are some barriers related to adoption:

The Intellectual Property of the work done by CEN lies with CEN. As a consequence not all documents regarding the new European E-invoicing Standard will be freely available.

More than that, currently it is envisaged that national extensions of the EN16931 European Electronic Invoice Standard will not be legally binding. But then there is CIUS, the Core Invoice Usage Specification. It is expected that through CIUS restrictions will unfortunately proliferate due to too open ended norm. Increasing complexity and insecurity.

Over 99% of the businesses in Europe consists of SME’s, most of which are self-employed/sole proprietor.

They are standardisation no-no’s and rely heavily on their administrative software to produce e-invoices and on e-mail to send them around. If administrative software providers are not facilitated to embrace the new standard, the ‘on-boarding’ rate will be disappointing.

Another constraint is adding complexity to the standardisation landscape. 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.

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