European Commission's activities on e-Invoicing
Over the past few years, the European Commission has given continuous support to the uptake of e-Invoicing. Thus, several initiatives at European level have been launched in order to facilitate the emergence of a pan-European e-Invoicing environment for businesses of all sizes and public authorities.
In 2011, the “European Multi-Stakeholder Forum on Electronic Invoicing” started its activities. It brings together key actors from the private and public sector of all Member States. It provides a unique platform to exchange experiences and best practices which can pave the way to the broad-scale adoption of e-invoicing at both national and EU level.
The Commission adopted on 2 December 2010, the Communication "Reaping the benefits of e-invoicing for Europe" and a Decision to set up a European Multi-Stakeholder Forum on e-Invoicing [23 KB] , which was announced in the Digital Agenda for Europe (press release). The Communication identifies a set of actions to support the uptake of e-invoicing by ensuring legal certainty and promoting the development of interoperable e-invoicing solutions based on a common standard, paying particular attention to the needs of SMEs. The Communication also invites the Member States to take action and promote e-invoicing at national level. All actions aim at making e-invoicing the predominant method of invoicing by 2020.
On 13 July 2010 the Council adopted Directive 2010/45/EU amending Directive 2006/112/EC on the common system of value added tax as regards the rules on invoicing (press release ). This Directive, which will be transposed by 1 January 2013, sets out new VAT rules as regards e-invoicing and removes the obstacles to the uptake of e-invoicing by creating equal treatment between paper and e-invoices, while also ensuring that no additional requirements are imposed on paper invoices.
In April 2010, the Commission organised a Conference on "Electronic Invoicing in Europe" to debate with a wide range of stakeholders the recommendations of the Expert Group on e-invoicing. Conference "Electronic Invoicing in Europe", Madrid, 27 and 28 April 2010.
The Expert Group on e-invoicing (2008-2009)
In 2008 the Commission has set up a group of experts with a mandate [30 KB] to prepare a European e-Invoicing Framework by the end of 2009. This Framework include legal and best practice guidelines, commercial and operational rules for e-invoicing systems and technical standards. Its aim is to support the wider uptake of secure, high-quality and compatible e-invoicing services across Europe.
1. Publications of the expert group on e-Invoicing
- In November 2009, the Expert Group adopted its final report [1003 KB] ( Presentation [2 MB] of the results of the Expert group). The report defines a list of business requirements which represent necessary conditions for achieving mass adoption of e-Invoicing, in particular, the widespread use of e-Invoicing by SMEs. These requirements are validated against current market reality, resulting in a number of identified gaps or areas for improvement identified in the report. A set of recommendations addressing these gaps constitutes the proposed European e-Invoicing Framework, the key deliverable of the Expert Group. The report also makes recommendations with clearly defined tasks and owners as to how this Framework could be implemented.
- The final report, which does not necessarily represent the views of the Commission, was open for consultation in January and February 2010. ( Summary of responses and Replies authorised for publication)
- In January 2009 the Expert Group on e-invoicing adopted its mid-term report . The report outlines the progress made during the first year of the group's mandate and represents an important step towards a European Electronic Invoicing Framework.
- The Expert Group published in June 2008 a status report .
2. More about the Expert Group on e-Invoicing
On the basis of the call for applications [13 KB] , 31 experts were selected (List of members of the Expert Group on e-invoicing [9 KB] ). The Expert Group started work on 26 February 2008 and it is meeting on average every two months. The expert group has completed its work at the end of 2009. The Expert Group has divided its work into three streams: Legal Framework, Business Requirements, Network and Standards.
The Expert Group has sent out a Code of Practice [53 KB] which sets out how companies can comply with VAT rules on compliance of electronic invoices in the light of the Commission's recent proposal (COM(2009)21) on amending Directive 2006/112/EC (the "VAT Directive").
The Informal Task Force on e-Invoicing (2007-2008)
In 2007 the Commission worked with a wide range of stakeholders - companies, banks, other financial service providers, standardisation organisations - to develop a common understanding of the problems and to agree the best way forward ( report of the European Commission Informal Taskforce on e-Invoicing ).