What is the problem? Need for the single market in payments
A fully implemented Single European Payment Area (SEPA) could generate net benefits of € 123 billion over six years for the market as a whole. Pan-European payment instruments, such as SEPA credit transfers and direct debits, reduce the costs of payments, increase competition and make cross-border payments as easy as domestic ones.
…. and cost- saving thanks to e-invoicing
Replacing paper invoices by e-invoices across the EU could lead to roughly € 240 billion in savings over a six-year period, according to studies. On the basis of these savings, the Commission wants e-invoicing to become the predominant method of invoicing in Europe by 2020. In the case of the public sector, a preliminary estimate indicates that in the next few years, savings of approximately €1 billion per year could potentially be achieved if all invoices were submitted in electronic format.
Why is EU action needed?
Migration towards internal market in payment and electronic invoicing needs to take place at European level in order to streamline both internal and cross-border transactions online. To this end, the Commission has already taken several actions:
What has the Commission done so far and what are the next steps?
Internal market in payments
The Commission proposed the Regulation setting EU-wide end-dates for the migration of old national credit transfers and direct debits to pan-European SEPA instruments by 1st of February 2014. The regulation entered into force in March 2012. More detailed information can be found here.
The Commission's work on payments has been pursued with Green Paper on an integrated European market for card, internet and mobile payments, which opened a public consultation. More details on the Green Paper can be found here.
As a result, the Commission announced specific follow-up actions to the Green Paper which will be proposed by the 2nd quarter of 2013. These are:
- Review Payment Services Directive (directive 2007/64/EC)
- A legislative initiative on multilateral interchange fees
For legal aspects related to VAT and e-invoicing, see action 11.
The Communication of 2nd December 2010 on e-invoicing defines a set of tangible actions to facilitate the uptake of e-invoices in Europe. In particular, the Commission called on Member States to set up national multi-stakeholder fora on e-invoicing and easier and established a multi-stakeholder forum at European level.
The last meeting of the European multi-stakeholder forum took place in September 2012..More information about the work of the group can be found here.
In Single Market Act II the Commission announces an additional action on e-invoicing which aims at making it a standard mode of invoicing in public procurement. More information can be found here.