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A Connecting Europe Success Story

Business Register Interconnection System (BRIS)

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Businesses are increasingly expanding beyond national borders, using the opportunities offered by the digital single market. This has led to an increasing demand for access to information on companies in a cross-border context. However, official information on companies is not always readily available on a cross-border basis. Directive 2012/17/EU set out provisions for the mandatory interconnection of the central, commercial and companies registers (typically referred to as business registers) as a measure required to create a more business-friendly legal and fiscal environment. The new system, known as Business Registers Interconnection System (BRIS) became a reality on 8 June 2017.

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What is the BRIS?

Business registers keep information on companies, including their legal form, seat, legal representatives and annual accounts, and make this information available to the public. The Business Registers Interconnection System (BRIS) connects the business registers of each Member State to a 'European Central Platform'. In addition, BRIS provides a single point of access via the European e-Justice Portal, through which citizens, businesses and public administrations can search for information on companies and their branches opened in other Member States. 

Why was the project setup?

The financial crisis has highlighted the importance of transparency in financial markets. In 2010, the European Union concluded that access to up-to-date, trustworthy information on companies would encourage greater confidence in the single market and increase competitiveness of European businesses. As technology makes it easier for citizens and companies to buy and sell goods across borders, there is an increasing demand for information on companies across borders. Ensuring this information is accessible, up-to-date and trustworthy requires cross-border cooperation and secure cross-border data exchange between business registers. The interconnection of Member States' business registers creates the necessary conditions for Europeans to take full advantage of the digital single market.

What are the benefits of the project?

  • Citizens can access accurate information about companies across the EU from one single acess point, leading to increased consumer confidence in cross border transactions.
  • Businesses benefit from reduced administrative burden related to certain cross-border obligations.
  • Public administrations benefit from increased legal certainty and faster cross-border procedures.

How do the Building Blocks fit in?

  • CEF eDelivery allows Member State business register systems to exchange messages securely. This is necessary, for example, when information needs to be updated quickly between registers. 
  • The European e-Justice Portal uses CEF eID already, which means users of BRIS can benefit from the login system.
  • It is planned to also use CEF eTranslation for an informal translation of company information made available via the European e-Justice Portal.

How was BRIS implemented?

Setting up BRIS was essentially a complex systems integration project, explains Vincent Dijkstra, Project Lead from the European Commission's Directorate General for Informatics (DIGIT). Choosing the right technical architecture for the solution was critical to the projects' success. As the BRIS team discussed the requirements of the potential solution with the Member States, they gradually became convinced that the integration must be based on a decoupled architecture. A decoupled architecture would provide the technical flexibility required to connect a large number systems and avoid the added complexity of coordinating upgrades, maintenance and down-time. 

"Without the dedicated support team we could never have delivered the project within the tight two year deadline."

Krzysztof Iwanski, European Commission Project Manager

Having established that the architecture would be based on a decoupled solution, the BRIS team began investigating what solution could be used to exchange messages securely between systems. “We mapped our needs to potential solutions and established that CEF eDelivery was a good fit”. 

CEF eDelivery solution was a good fit for two main reasons. First, the eDelivery AS4 profile defines how messages are exchanged securely over a web service. “Without AS4, we would have had to negotiate lots of different parameters, such as the security protocol, or how a message is packaged, or how we confirm receipt of a message with all 31 participating countries” (EU Member States plus European Economic Area countries). The time saved allowed the BRIS team to focus on defining the business rules. 

The second reason for selecting CEF eDelivery was the support that CEF offers. Krzysztof Iwanski, European Commission Project Manager, explains that when handling a complex project like this, the teams working on BRIS across the Member States need a place to turn to and having a dedicated support team available to them was invaluable. “Without the dedicated support team we could never have delivered the project within the tight two year deadline”.

Vincent Dijkstra, European Commission Project Lead, believes CEF offers real value by offering a set of standards that projects can use to deliver a secure end to end solution. There are currently five CEF building blocks based on open European standards, eDelivery, eID, eSignature, eInvoicing and eTranslation

"CEF offers real value by offering a set of standards that projects can use to deliver a secure end-to-end solution."

Vincent Dijkstra, European Commission Project Lead

What are the results?

First, the connection of Member State business registers ensures that company information is up-to-date and creates a safer business environment and increased legal certainty for consumers, businesses and creditors.

Second, through the European e-Justice Portal citizens and businesses and public administrations now have a single multi-lingual point of access to information about their business partners in their own language.

Finally, increased legal certainty and faster cross-border procedures will have a positive impact on other administrative bodies, on those fighting fiscal fraud or money-laundering, such as tax or police authorities. 

At the time of writing, BRIS exchanges over 20 thousand messages per day keeping the information on approximately 20 million limited liability companies up-to-date.

Last updated on  Sep 16, 2019 12:00
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