CEF eTranslation: Fifteen additional neural engines included

European Commission 2018


The European Commission is happy to announce the release of the last fifteen neural engines covering the following languages:

  • English into Greek, Spanish, Italian, Maltese, Portuguese and Romanian
  • Danish, Dutch and Slovenian into English

CEF eTranslation now offers artificial intelligence-based machine translation in all 24 official EU languages.

Funded by the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the EU’s main instrument supporting trans-European infrastructures, the eTranslation Building Block helps European and national public administrations exchange information across language barriers.

The EU now has more than 500 million citizens, 28 Member States, 24 official languages and 3 alphabets. The harmonious co-existence of many languages in Europe is a powerful symbol of the EU's aspiration to be united in diversity - a cornerstone of the European project. A Digital Single Market can only be built with effective multilingual digital services.

eTranslation is the European Commission’s machine translation service, developed by its Directorate-General for Translation. It can translate documents between all official EU languages. The format and formatting of the original document is preserved, except for PDF files, which are returned as docx. eTranslation builds on the European Commission’s earlier machine translation service, MT@EC. The MT@EC service, recently retired from service, was based on MOSES open-source translation toolkit, a Statistical Machine Translation (SMT) system developed with co-funding from EU research and innovation programmes, while eTranslation is following the field’s move into neural machine translation.

eTranslation is built using cutting-edge neural network technology. This AI-based machine learning approach examines the full context of a sentence to produce highly fluent, readable, and almost human-like translations.

Alongside the eTranslation tool, the CEF eTranslation Building Block also includes the European Language Resource Coordination (ELRC). To improve upon the quality and coverage of the service, CEF eTranslation requires a much larger scope of language resources and translation data. The European Commission therefore launched ELRC to identify and gather language and translation data relevant to national public services, administrations and governmental institutions across all 30 European countries participating in the CEF programme.

Up to €5 million in grant funding is currently available from the CEF Telecom programme, administered by the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA), supporting the uptake of CEF eTranslation in Europe. It also supports the provision of language resources for CEF eTranslation. The deadline for applications is 18 September 2018.









CEF eInvoicing Grant Funding: Prepare your proposal - Deadline 18 September 2018

European Commission, 2018


The current Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) call for proposals (CEF-TC-2018-2) provides funding of up to € 5 million to support the adoption of compliant eInvoicing solutions by both public and private entities. The funding covers up to 75% of the costs of implementation. The deadline for applications is 18 September 2018.

The CEF is the EU’s main financing instrument for trans-European infrastructure, including digital infrastructure. The CEF eInvoicing Building Block provides services that support public administrations comply with European legislation (Directive 2014/55/EU on eInvoicing in public procurement), and implement the European standard on eInvoicing. CEF eInvoicing also helps solution providers adapt their services accordingly. Dedicated CEF grant funding further supports the adoption of eInvoicing respecting the European standard.

Proposals must address one or both of the following objectives:

  1. Uptake of eInvoicing solutions compliant with the European standard and its ancillary deliverables by public authorities (central, regional, and local);
  2. Update of existing eInvoicing solutions compliant with the European standard and its ancillary deliverables. For example, such updates should allow end-to-end eProcurement to be ensured through the integration of Invoicing modules in eProcurement platforms or solutions aiming at full automation, or other innovative solutions such as real-time eInvoicing/reporting.

In order to ensure a successful proposal, interested stakeholders are encouraged to prepare the relevant files well ahead of the 18 September deadline. The recording of the 2018 CEF Telecom call virtual info day provides those preparing a submission with valuable insights into the process, as well as tips and tricks. Those still looking for consortia partners might wish to visit the Build a Consortium LinkedIn group.


How has CEF supported eInvoicing to date?

CEF eInvoicing and dedicated grant funding successfully support organisations in preparing for the legal deadline of 18 April 2019 (for transposition of the Directive).

For example, in 2011, Croatia started its eInvoicing journey. The Croatian government enacted regulation that created new administrative processes for public administrations and businesses in 2013. However, the Ministry was eager to improve the existing eInvoicing system to excel user-experience and application in Croatia. The Ministry saw the opportunity to enhance eInvoicing in Croatia when it saw an CEF eInvoice grant call.

With the grant, the Ministry aimed to advance cross-border eInvoicing possibilities, mature the national eInvoicing efforts, integrate eDelivery services and connect new stakeholders to the Croatian eInvoice Exchange Hub.  CEF services facilitated the Ministry throughout this electronic transformation passage by providing a standardised set of normative and technical details. CEF saved the Ministry valuable time as it did not lose time researching and finding appropriate standards and exchange options. This reduced the implementation process, made it easier, faster and significantly more efficient for Croatia.

Mass adoption of eInvoicing within the EU leads to significant economic benefits and an increase in European business competitiveness. Supported by the Directive, acceptance of eInvoices by governments will make it easier to do business with the public sector. The Directive called for a European standard on eInvoicing to prevent the proliferation of differing eInvoices in the Single Market. Working at a syntax level, the European standard helps increase cross-border interoperability and so support business and administration in Europe.


How are public health care institutions implementing eInvoicing with the help of a service provider? 


Service Providers and eInvoicing

EDICOM is a service provider that has helped Member States implement eInvoicing solutions that comply with the European Standard. The company develops platforms for data transmission between companies by EDI technology (Electronic Data Interchange) or eInvoice (electronic invoicing). The company has supported a wide range of CEF eInvoicing projects.

What is the goal of this project?

Hospitals across Europe are using different electronic invoicing formats, complicating system interoperability. According to the eInvoicing Directive, all public entities have to be compliant to the eInvoicing standard in 2019 to ensure a transparent and efficient public procurement. This is where EDICOM started to play a role as service provider. Since 2016, the service provider has supported projects in the European Union to help the public administration entities to meet the eInvoicing Directive 2014/55/EU deadline on 18 April 2019.  For these particular projects, the service provider is helping public health care providers, mainly hospitals, to implement the standards to be compliant. The use of eInvoicing will ensure interoperability and simplify public procurement for them.

As a large service provider, EDICOM has or is currently leading the following three eInvoicing projects:

  1. 2015- EU-IA-00058 GOVeIN- European eInvoicing Project: Implementation of the European electronic invoice within the Public Health area
  2. 2016-EU-IA-0096 GOV2EU- Supporting public entities to adopt EU Standard on the electronic invoice for cross-border transactions
  3. 2017-EU-IA-0146 Public Hospitals from Belgium, Poland, Austria, Hungary and Italy prepared to the eInvoicing European Norm

The firm has played a significant role in each project by providing help to Member State hospitals to start using electronic invoicing and helping them with the transition to meet the 2019 deadline.

What role have CEF services played?

Although EDICOM is an experienced eInvoice service provider, the CEF services have provided assistance through services such as:

How have these services been beneficial?

The CEF eInvoice services were used to generate proof to the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA), the agency that manages various EU programme grants including CEF, that the service providers eInvoicing solution is compliant. CEF offers a conformance testing service that allows solution and service providers, and public entities to check the conformance of their existing eInvoicing solution against the core invoice format of the European standard on eInvoicing.

According to EDICOM, the conformance tests provide a valuable opportunity to identify mistakes on the implementation side and helped the service provider to ensure it's implementation is compliant with the European standard.

“We recommend fellow service providers to promote the European Directive and to convince their clients to be as compliant as possible to see results.”

 Jose Rocha, Research and Design Project Manager at Edicom Capital SL

What can service providers learn from EDICOM?

The service provider sets a great example on how service providers can work with and utilise CEF services to help European public entities meet the European Directive deadline in 2019. Today, some EU institutions use the service providers platform to generate and send electronic invoices across Europe, which shows that service providers have numerous opportunities to facilitate services in the long term. The three mentioned projects, of which two have been completed, are successful demonstrations of big consortiums promoted by public and private entities from different Member States in the health sector. This track-record highlights that service providers play a vital role in the CEF programme. Note that although the CEF eInvoicing deadline is approaching in spring 2019, the Digital Single Market is a continuous project and many public entities will rely on private solutions to transform digitally.

What’s next?

EDICOM has started the third CEF eInvoicing project, to help public hospitals from Belgium, Poland, Austria, Hungary and Italy prepare for the eInvoicing European Directive, and CEF eInvoice services will be utilised for this project too.

Are you ready for eInvoicing in public procurement?  

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CEF Building Blocks Presented at the German Federal Office of Administration

 ©Pixabay

Marking 9 May, Europe Day 2018, the European Commission presented the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Building Blocks at the German Federal Office of Administration (Bundesverwaltungsamt, BVA) in Cologne.

The BVA has a history of close cooperation with the European Commission, and Member States' authorities. As part of the “Forum international” series, representatives from the European Commission were invited to present on ‘25 Years of the EU Single Market’ and ‘The CEF Building Blocks: Building a Digital Single Market’, followed by a Q&A with participants.

Since 1960, the Fed­er­al Of­fice of Ad­min­is­tra­tion has evolved from an au­thor­i­ty main­ly han­dling ad­min­is­tra­tive tasks in­to a re­li­able ser­vices agen­cy for the Fed­er­al Min­istry of the In­te­ri­or and the en­tire fed­er­al ad­min­is­tra­tion. The BVA's ex­per­tise in pub­lic ad­min­is­tra­tion has been en­hanced by ser­vices with a na­tion­al and in­ter­na­tion­al scope.

Thomas Fillis presents how the CEF Building Blocks build a Digital Single Market ©BVA

©Bundesverwaltungsamt,BVA

To build a Digital Single Market, the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programme funds a set of generic and reusable Digital Service Infrastructures (DSI), known as Building Blocks. The CEF Building Blocks offer basic capabilities that can be reused in any European project to facilitate the delivery of digital public services across borders and sectors. Currently, there are five building blocks: eDelivery, eInvoicing, eID, eSignature and eTranslation, with future building blocks soon to be released.

The basis for the CEF building blocks are interoperability agreements between European Union member states. The aim of the building blocks is thus to ensure interoperability between IT systems so that citizens, businesses and administrations can benefit from seamless digital public services wherever they may be in Europe.

All the information needed to see how the CEF Building Blocks can benefit your organisation or project are available on the CEF Digital website.



View the presentation (in German)


CEF eInvoicing: Recording Published - Interactive Webinar #10: CIUS including PEPPOL CIUS

European Commission 2018


In May 2018, the European Commission launched a second round of live webinars exploring electronic invoicing (eInvoicing) respecting the recently published European standard.

On Tuesday 19 June, an interactive webinar provided participants with information on the CIUS (Core Invoice Usage Specifications), including the PEPPOL CIUS.

Participants at this webinar had an opportunity to learn about:

  • The CIUS concept - its meaning, usage, compliance and documentation
  • PEPPOL CIUS - benefits, challenges and country-specific requirements

Upcoming Webinars

This webinar was part of a series that will cover the most relevant eInvoicing topics. Follow us to receive the latest updates on CEF eInvoicing and upcoming events.

We invite you to vote on your preferred topics to be addressed in the upcoming webinars. You can also add topics to the list below.


What other topics should the upcoming webinars cover?

eDelivery implementation in the context of eInvoicing
28% 5 votes
2-syntax management strategy
6% 1 vote
Change management & alignment between implementations
6% 1 vote
Transposition of the Directive 2014/55/EU
28% 5 votes
Roadmap towards April 2019 (deadline for compliance with EN)
33% 6 votes

Background and CIUS Concept

European legislation (Directive 2014/55/EU on eInvoicing in public procurement) calls for a European standard on eInvoicing to prevent the proliferation of differing eInvoices in the Single Market. Working at a syntax level, the European standard helps increase cross-border interoperability and so support business and administration in Europe.

The European standard on electronic invoicing enables cross-border, interoperable eInvoicing in Europe. To this end, it introduces the concept of a "core invoice" – a limited, but sufficient, and commonly used set of information elements supporting generally applicable invoice-related functionalities. Still, not every contracting authority needs (or may be allowed to use) all elements available in the core invoice. To support this, the European standard defines the concept of the Core Invoice Usage Specification (CIUS), which allows to restrict the core invoice.

While a CIUS is a useful and compliant way to support tailored implementations needed from sector or national practices, the overarching objectives of interoperability and minimisation of costs established by Directive 2014/55 must be respected. Understanding the concept of CIUS, and especially if and how to use it, is therefore fundamental to understand how to implement the European standard.

CEF eInvoicing

The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) eInvoicing building block serves to support public administrations in complying with Directive 2014/55/EU, and helps solution providers adapt their services accordingly. To do so, CEF eInvoicing makes the following services available:

Finally, in 2018 CEF makes an indicative €5 million in grant funding available to support the adoption of solutions compliant with the European standard on eInvoicing. Apply now for eInvoicing grants, the call closes on 18 September 2018.

 



European Commission Opens Public Consultation on the Evaluation of VAT Invoicing Rules

European Commisison, 2018


On 13 June 2018, the European Commission launched a public consultation on the evaluation of VAT invoicing rules. Submissions are welcome until 20 September 2018.

The scope of the consultation is to collect data and evidence needed to evaluate the invoicing rules introduced by the Second Invoicing Directive (Directive 2010/45/EU).

In particular, the data gathered through the consultation should allow identification and quantification of the regulatory costs, benefits, savings and burden reduction and simplification potential for businesses generated by the invoicing rules. Special focus will be on electronic invoicing (eInvoicing) and data gathered through the consultation should allow to measure and better understand the uptake of eInvoicing in the EU.

The questionnaire takes about 30 minutes to complete.

Translations of the questionnaire into Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish and Swedish will be available subsequently.

The European Commission supports eInvoicing in Europe through the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Building Block. CEF is the EU’s main financing instrument for trans-European infrastructure. In 2018, €5 million in grant funding is available via CEF to support compliant eInvoicing, the deadline for applications being 18 September 2018.


eInvoicing policy: EMSFeI guidance on implementation for EU public administrations published!

European Commission, 2018

In June 2018, the European Multi-Stakeholder Forum on eInvoicing (EMSFeI) adopted a guidance paper supporting public administrations with the adoption of electronic invoicing (eInvoicing) in public procurement. The European Commisison encourages relevant stakeholders to make best use of - and share - this document.

The guidance paper is essential reading for decision-makers who have responsibility for eInvoicing in all public sector organisations throughout Europe. Specifically, it supports public administrations in both the transposition of  Directive 2014/55/EU (on eInvoicing in public procurement) into national law and the implementation of a European standard on eInvoicing.What answers and other useful information can you can find in this document? This comprehensive document contains the essential information to accompany concrete implementation of your eInvocing policy.

The guidance paper provides a checklist for the transposition and general implementation of the Directive 2014/55/EU, which sets out a legal deadline of 18 April 2019.

  • Drivers for implementing eInvoicing: What to keep in mind when devising a national strategy
  • National policy-making process and coherence with EU law:  How to ensure smooth transition into national law
  • eInvoicing infrastructure and technical implementation: Setting eInvoicing infrastructure on the ground
  • On-boarding and communication: What should you consider to support the on-boarding of suppliers
  • Success factors and pitfalls: Tips & tricks plus what to avoid
  • Sustaining eInvoicing beyond the transposition: Make it last and reap the benefits long-term



Download PDF

The guidance paper also highlights the tools, services, support and information (such as country factsheets) provided as part of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) eInvoicing Building Block. A key support mechanism for Member States in implementing Directive 2014/55/EU. CEF is the EU’s main financing instrument for trans-European infrastructure. In 2018, €5 million in grant funding is available via CEF to support compliant eInvoicing. The deadline for applications is 18 September 2018.

Did you know? European legislation (Directive 2014/55/EU) calls for a European standard on eInvoicing in public procurement to prevent the proliferation of different formats of eInvoices in the Single Market.

The EMSFeI brings together public and private sector representatives from EU Member States, as well as other experts, on a regular basis to discuss and make recommendations to the community of eInvocing stakeholders and to the European Commission on how to promote and implement eInvoicing.

The guidance paper was issued during the event 'How eInvoicing is Connecting Europe: Building a Digital Single Market'. The event focused on the practical implementation of B2G eInvoicing in Europe in the context of Directive 2014/55/EU. You can download the presentations, see the recording and better understand the future of eInvoicing in Europe here.






Connecting Europe: CEF Building Blocks Presented at eDelivery Day in Sweden


On 7 June 2018, the Swedish National Financial Management Authority (ESV) organised a one-day event looking at the adoption of eDelivery in Sweden. This included a presentation on the value of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Building Blocks, with a specific focus on CEF eDelivery.

To ensure Swedish authorities are able to exchange data in the most reliable and secure way, the ESV is piloting the use of eDelivery for data-exchange between government departments and services (G2G). The implementation of eDelivery at the national level also facilities cross-border exchange.

Participants shared knowledge about what eDelivery is, how it works and what it can help with. Participants also received an update on what is happening within the EU and in various national projects.

Sweden has made significant progress in the deployment of eDelivery infrastructure at the creation of a vibrant digital ecosystem around it.

eDelivery is a network of nodes for digital communications based on a distributed model where every participant becomes a node using standard transport protocols and security policies. The Building Block can be used internationally, nationally and locally.

The CEF eDelivery solution is based on a distributed model called the “4-corner model”. In this model, the back-end systems of the users don’t exchange data directly with each other but do this through Access Points. These Access Points are conformant to the same technical specifications and therefore capable of communicating with each other.

CEF is the EU’s main financing instrument for cross-border infrastructure, including Digital Service Infrastructures such as the CEF Building Blocks. The Building Blocks promote the adoption of the common open standards and technical specifications, in different sectors, for basic and common functionalities of any sectorial project or platform. Currently, there are five building blocks: eTranslation, eInvoicing, eID, eSignature and eDelivery.

The ESV pilots support the exchange of data in several contexts.

The output project ESV and the National Audit Office, in cooperation with various authorities, conducted a pilot project to standardise financial data from authorities to the Office of the Auditor General. Secure Digital Communication (SDK) is a project run by SKL / Inera, together with several agencies. The aim is to send information between organisations (public and private) in a simple and secure way. Project leader Martin Völcker and integrator Oskar Glanzmann also provided a more in-depth description of the components of eDelivery and its configuration and route selection.

Nils Fjelkegård, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Finance, gave the Government Chancellor's view of secure message transmission and access to basic data. Nils Fjelkegaard ellaborated on the Agency for Digital Administration's future mission to create a strategy for common basic data and an effective information exchange within the public sector.

In 2018, e-Boks chose to integrate CEF eDelivery and the AS4 message exchange protocol as a standard they will use to deliver secure messages to almost 15 million users, ranging from corporate and public authorities to private citizens. Christian Vindinge Rasmussen, explained why e-Box has made this decision and what they expect to benefit from this.

Hans Ekståhl from the Swedish Companies Registration Office told participants about Sweden's participation in the The Only Once Principal (TOOP) project. TOOP is a strategic project for the European Commission, where the architecture is expected to be reused in more areas.

Finally, Björn Hesthamar from PTS explained the agency's work with trusted services and the current status in Sweden.

Through CEF, the European Commission supports the implementation of eDelivery architecture throughout Europe. Thanks to the CEF eDelivery service offering, the Commission has supported Swedish authorities in their goal of ensuring reliable, secure data exchange both at the national level and with other Member States or partners.

CEF grant funding is also available to support the adoption of eDelivery in your organisation. CEF provides  € 0.5 million and funding covers up to 75% of the costs of implementation. The deadline for applications is 18 September 2018.


View the slides:



CEF eDelivery: Component Offering Document for SML, SMP and Access Points available now

European Commission, 2018


The European Commission is happy to announce the publication of Component Offering Description (COD) documents for key components of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) eDelivery Building Block.

CEF is the EU’s main financing instrument for trans-European digital infrastructure. CEF Building Blocks, such as eDelivery, are fundamental components of a Digital Single Market. Their reuse saves organisations:

  • Costs: common services and proven technology
  • Time: customisable solutions built on common standards
  • Resources: via the allocation and mobility of human resources (expertise pools)

CEF eDelivery is a network of nodes for digital communications, based on a distributed model where every participant becomes a node using standard transport protocols and security policies. CEF eDelivery is based on the AS4 messaging protocol.

The CEF eDelivery Access Point (AP) implements a standardised message exchange protocol that ensures interoperable, secure and reliable data exchange.

The CEF eDelivery Service Metadata Publisher (SMP) enables the participants of an eDelivery Messaging Infrastructure to dynamically discover each other's capabilities (legal, organisational, and technical). For this to happen, each participant must publish its capabilities and settings in a Service Metadata Processor (SMP).

The CEF eDelivery Service Metadata Locator (SML) enables Access Points to dynamically discover the IP address of the destination Access Point. Instead of looking at a static list of IP addresses, the Access Point consults a Service Metadata Publisher (SMP) where information about every participant in the document/ data exchange network is kept up to date, including the IP addresses of their Access Point.

The Component Offering Documents describe the CEF eDelivery messaging infrastructure and its dynamic discovery model, the functional and technical specifications of the AP, SML and SMP components and their usage.

CEF grant funding is also available to support the adoption of eDelivery in your organisation. CEF provides € 0.5 million and funding covers up to 75% of the costs of implementation. The deadline for applications is 18 September 2018.




Finland is using AI in attempt to achieve one-hundred per cent eInvoicing

Finland is a best practice example of the future of eInvoicing. By introducing eInvoicing in the last decade, the Finnish State Treasury confirms that today, over ninety per cent of invoices are electronic, up from eight per cent in the early 2000’s. By utilising Artificial Intelligence (AI), Finland aims to achieve one-hundred per cent eInvoicing, and that invoices will not only be electronic but that they will be processed automatically too. Finland’s story illustrates the future of eInvoicing and that electronic invoicing is only the beginning of your CEF journey.

How did Finland introduce eInvoicing?

Over 15 years ago Finance Finland (former Finnish Banker’s Association) first designed and operationalised an accepted the Finnish eInvoice format. Finance Finland has earlier published standards for bank account statements and fixed forms for sending payments. Subsequently, large companies and the State Treasury of Finland asked the Finnish Bankers’ Association to design and maintain an eInvoicing format. The requesting stakeholders knew that if the Finnish Bankers’ Association developed the format, it would be available to all stakeholders (like payment standards, e.g. account statement in the past) and free of charge since it would be a state-run development and format.

The Association launched the first domestic standard eInvoicing format in 2003. The organisation’s form contained an electronic payment initiation (ePI) which is a simplified credit transfer including invoice and credit transfer data. Initially, the eInvoice format was planned to be compact, however additional and complex requirements surfaced after the form was published it 2007, making it a more detailed format than anticipated. Nevertheless, it launched, and by 2007 Finland had a B2C eInvoice solution.

What standard did Finland apply?

The Finnish Bankers’ Association developed an eInvoice standard, a standard set of terms and conditions (T&C), for the use of its extended format. Finnish companies found this national standard and framework to send B2B, B2G, and B2C eInvoices easy to use since it was a common framework for all stakeholders that amongst other things reduced administrative burdens. As Finland explained it, compared to a marketing department, which has different departments, e.g. business and corporate clients, the invoicing department of a firm only has one invoicing department and standardise invoicing simplifies the working process. Today, in Finland, the four-corner model is used between businesses and customers; whereas buyers and sellers can use their service providers, considering they require different or no all the same type of information.

Finland, as an eInvoicing pioneer, had to develop its format independently. You have the opportunity to utilise CEF eInvoicing services to guide you through the eInvoice implementation phase and how to find the best system for your needs to implement eInvoicing successfully.

The standardised Finnish format has been in existence for about ten years. Today, at the Finnish State Treasury, over ninety per cent of invoices are electronic. Finland achieved this high implementation success result by implementing eInvoicing instead of the Direct Debit system SEPA DD. Before SEPA, only eight per cent of the transaction were Direct Debit payments. However, most companies prefer to use the SEPA credit transfer process for eInvoicing as SEPA DD is an automatic withdrawal from the customer, which many customers perceive as unfavourable. Meanwhile, it requires the business to consider an eight-week cancellations period for customers meaning that each business has to keep a specific money supply.  SEPA credit transfer does not require the latter and, therefore, Finnish B2C stakeholders prefer an eInvoice.

What format does Finland use to apply this standard?

After the Finnish Bankers’ Association developed the eInvoice format, it has become the most used eInvoice format throughout Finland. Nevertheless, Tieto Finland also developed an eInvoice format that is in use by eInvoice service providers. Finnish Post was the third and final producer of an eInvoice format. However, the format is not as widely used as other formats.  To-date, the Bankers’ Association format is the most successful one because the association is not dependent on making a profit from the format.

How does Finland plan to achieve 100% domestic eInvoicing?

The State Treasury of Finland plans to implement automated eInvoice handling by utilising AI and robotics. AI could analyse data within seconds to find an agreement number and amount and place the eInvoice on its payment flow to facilitate further automation. Currently, Finland has identified the most significant challenge to be that IT companies and other operators need to be aware of what data needs to be in the correct place to achieve ultimate automation goals.

How to capture the remaining ten per cent of the market that is not yet using eInvoicing?
Considering that there are many solutions to send eInvoices in place for SME, one option is to return the paper invoice to the sender and request eInvoices instead.

Greatest eInvoice Benefits for Finland

Besides the financial benefits, eInvoicing has a substantial environmental impact. Finland’s payment system is fully digitalised, transitioning from paper to electronic formats over several years. Today, nearly all consumers use online banking instead of visiting the bank office, considerably reducing the carbon footprint from transportation. Furthermore, only one per cent of Finnish consumers withdraw cash from the bank office. Most consumers have adopted cards and mobile payments, which further reduced the paper trail in Finland. In addition, corporate payments flow is ninety-nine per cent digital. New payment products such as eInvoice and electronic receipt have measurable climate benefits that can and are reviewed by the Finnish government annually.

 

Source: Federation of Finnish Financial Services

The CO2 impact and eInvoice progress in Finland is captured in below table. The carbon footprint of an electronic invoice is estimated to be 150g CO2e in comparison to 450g CO2e of a paper invoice. Approximately forty per cent of the CO2 emissions of a paper invoice is generated from paper, paper envelopes, printing and delivery costs. eInvoice has, as the name indicated, automated this process and reduced CO2 emission accordingly.

The State Treasury numbers indicate the proportion, in percentage, of sent and received invoices from companies and other organisations in the financial sector annually. The automation states how far the automated eInvoice process, due to the incorporation of artificial intelligence, is in the State Treasury.

Source: Finnish State Treasury

What’s next for Finland?

Finland has ambitious plans to progress towards automated electronic invoice processing in the coming years. Meaning that invoices will be handled automatically through artificial intelligence, further eliminating administrative burdens and lead to substantial costs savings for the public administration.

PO Invoice = Purchase Order Invoice, CM Invoice = Contract Matching Invoice
Source: Finnish State Treasury


To conclude, Finland has successfully implemented eInvoicing and is progressing towards fully automated eInvoicing processing in 2019. To achieve this milestone, have a look at our CEF eInvoice services and how you can get started today.

Are you ready for eInvoicing in public procurement?  


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The Swedish eInvoice pioneers 

How Sweden built up eInvoicing from the ground-up and how you can leverage on the existing CEF services

Sweden’s eInvoicing excursion dates back to the 1990’s before the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) was established. This meant that the Swedish authorities developed electronic invoicing from the ground-up. Read their story here and realise how easily CEF eInvoicing services can help you implement eInvoicing and what impact eInvoicing has already had on Sweden’s public administration.  

Sweden and their Single Face To Industry initiative

The Single Face To Industry (SFTI) initiative was born out of a central effort to promote e-procurement in 1998. The initiative was part of a government digitalisation reform to increase administration’s efficiency and the desire to encourage the use of modern ICT-solutions in the public sector.

Since 1998, SFTI is a joint initiative of three Swedish public sector bodies: the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Region, the Swedish National Financial Management Authority (ESV) and the National Agency for Public Procurement. SFTI aims to promote an eProcurement standard across the Swedish public sector by working together with public sector entities, suppliers and IT-providers. eInvoicing is an integral part of this to operate the eProcurement process fully.

SFTI implementation journey

SFTI initially started to facilitate the introduction of eProcurement, covering the full process from tendering to invoicing. In the work of SFTI, the use of common standards was one of the key pillars. Around the Millennium, SFTI was focused on the post-award processes, as was the norm then. Since then, SFTI has evolved to focus on the pre-award process.

Today, SFTI targets the public sector, suppliers of goods and services and the IT-providers offering. It focuses on strong public-private collaboration, by providing extensive support, training, guidelines, and handbooks to engage different stakeholders in a national context to adopt eProcurement.  Thus, similar to CEF, which offers eInvoicing services, the Swedish government focused on providing services and not solutions.

SFTI’s technical background

Early on there was an understanding in SFTI that the focus should be on Pan-European solutions rather than inventing national dialects. A collaboration began in 2006 to work on common specifications among fellow Nordic countries. Later, SFTI became one of the active members of CEN BII, and in the PEPPOL project too. SFTI fosters Pan-European solutions. It makes it easier for suppliers, both inside and outside of Sweden and simplifies the implementation procedure for service providers. Today, SFTI promotes cross-border eInvoicing based on PEPPOL.

What, according to Sweden, are the most significant eInvoicing benefits?

According to the Swedish public authorities, eInvoicing has enabled recycling of PEPPOL network and engagement with the fellow Member States and international bodies. SFTI supported the public sector in automating procurement processes while contributing to cost savings across public administrations, leading to higher overall automation across public administrations. Furthermore, SFTI supports public sector entities to move to electronic processes and thereby reduces paper waste. The European Commission anticipated that the adoption of the eInvoicing standard might generate secondary impacts, including but not limited to, specific positive economic, social, and environmental effects and Sweden’s SFTI confirm this. For example, eInvoicing is estimated to have environmental benefits in Sweden (see the study on environmental benefits from eInvoicing, the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm).  

In numbers, today 63 per cent of all invoices to the Swedish central government are electronic, and approximately 50 per cent of all invoices to Swedish local authorities and regions are electronic. Despite the current high number, the Swedish government anticipates a 1.7 billion SEK (approx. 165,6 million EUR) savings for society when the national public sector eInvoicing law will enter into force on April 1st, 2019 and eInvoicing will become mandatory. This significant financial cost saving captures the impact of eInvoicing, even in already electronically advanced administrations such as Sweden.

eInvoicing on the local government level

From the outset, SFTI has been a success for local authorities and regions too. Today, eInvoicing is used by 87 per cent of municipalities and 95 per cent of the regions. They voluntarily made significant eInvoice implementation progress, starting when ESV began its eInvoicing and eProcurement journey in 2005, that had a significant positive impact on electronic procurement in Sweden.

“We could early on learn from the experiences of local and regional authorities. That collaboration is probably the single most important aspect of our progress in central government since we did not start from scratch. With the mandatory eInvoicing since 2008 in central government, even more suppliers started using eInvoicing, and this momentum, in turn, helped the municipalities and regions to implement eInvoicing.” Mr. Peter Norén, Head of the unit at ESV

Today, eInvoicing solutions used by the public sector in Sweden are also in use in the B2B context in Sweden. The initiative is based on open standards and has created an ecosystem of eInvoicing in Sweden. Furthermore, it created a market for eInvoicing solution offerings for SME’s and micro companies that did not exist beforehand.

Sweden’s collaboration with CEF

SFTI and ESV have been active participants in the CEF eInvoice standardisation projects such as PEPPOL and E-SENS. By contributing to a standardised EU eInvoice service, Sweden facilitated the delivery of a single digital market where public services can cross borders easier. The standardisation of electronic invoicing aims to promote and accelerate the use of eInvoicing in the EU standard across the public and private sector of all Member States, as well as in participating EEA countries. It is an integral part of procurement across borders, facilitating G2B and as well as B2B eInvoicing. A digitally connected Single Market means freedom, the freedom to buy and sell goods in your language and thereby opening new markets for businesses and citizens too.

What is next for Sweden?

After many years of successful voluntary SFTI standardisation, eProcurement and eInvoicing, the Swedish public sector started to enforce the mandatory rollout of Directive 2014/55/EU and aims to be compliant by April 2019.

Are you ready for eInvoicing in public procurement?  


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CEF eInvoicing



Digital Services: Supporting citizens, businesses and administrations in Europe



The Digital Single Market aims to overcome the challenges of digitalisation by creating the right environment for digital networks and services to flourish. The European Commission works to achieve a Digital Single Market in Europe through a combination of leading-edge legislation, guidelines and programmes ensuring the freedoms and protections of the EU’s Single Market are harnessed for the digital age.

During the Digital Assembly 2018, the European Commission is presenting eGovernment and Trust, Interoperability solutions for public administrations, businesses and citizens (ISA² Programme) and trans-European Digital Service Infrastructures (the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Building Blocks).

eGovernment and trust advances the quality and innovation of public administrations and accelerates the large-scale public sector and private sector use of trusted identification and trust services. This ensures that citizens and businesses can use their own national electronic identification schemes (eIDs) to access public services in other EU countries where eIDs are available, as provided for by Regulation (EU) N°910/2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market (commonly known as the eIDAS Regulation). With the eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020, public administrations at local, regional and national level and public institutions are supported to be open, efficient and inclusive.

The ISA² programme is currently boosting interoperability in Europe, working in the implementation of the European Interoperability Framework (EIF) in the European Union and monitoring the process at Member State level through the National Interoperability Framework Observatory (NIFO).  ISA² also supports the development of digital solutions (so far 24 interoperable and open source solutions) that enable public administrations, businesses and citizens in Europe to benefit from interoperable cross-border and cross-sector public services.

The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) is the EUs main financing instrument for trans-European infrastructure. CEF funds a set of generic and reusable Digital Service Infrastructures (DSI), also known as Building Blocks. The basis for the CEF Building Blocks are interoperability agreements between European Union member states. Common standards supported by services and grant funding, connecting Europe.

The Digital Assembly is a major annual forum that gathers more than 1,000 stakeholders and high-level policymakers to debate the EU digital policy and the implications of recent technological developments. The European Commission warmly invites all interested stakeholders attending to visit the stand 'Digital Services: Supporting citizens, businesses and administrations in Europe' and see how they can benefit from a connected Digital Single Market.


A Connecting Europe Success Story

How the Netherlands is preparing to meet the European Directive on eInvoicing

With the impending eInvoice deadline in April 2019, the Dutch story aims to inspire the fellow Member States on how to approach their national eInvoicing implementation journey.



Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Setting up a Public Procurement Expertise Centre

To meet the European eInvoicing deadline the Dutch government created a Unit Invoicing at the Public Procurement Expertise Centre (PIANOo).  PIANOo was set up to professionalise the Dutch procurement and tendering process in all government departments. The Dutch government procures around €73 billion worth of work, services and supplies every year and a standardised electronic procurement, based on the European eInvoicing standard, aims to ensure quality in government services and a sustainable market. PIANOo’s tasks are to support local government to implement eInvoicing. The Connecting European Facility (CEF) played an inspirational role in how they set-up their organisation and defined the services they provide to their stakeholders. 

Bring stakeholders together at roadshows

Prior to PIANOo being set up, numerous eInvoicing tools and systems were in place which resulted in a fractured and siloed ecosystem. Authorities were waiting for guidance and PIANOo stepped in and created a user platform to steer and guide the discussion. By following the lead of CEF and the Nordic Member States, the Dutch have adopted the PEPPOL four-corner model.

Using CEF eInvoicing services as an example, PIANOo developed a set of services in Dutch to guide local governments through their implementation

To support local authorities, PIANOo organised 26 roadshows across the Netherlands in 2017. At each roadshow, the PIANOo team presented the benefits and steps required to get started to 6 or 7 municipalities. Besides the roadshow, PIANOo also organised service providers fair for public administrators to meet with service providers and identify which solution would best meet their needs.

Market-driven solutions

PIANOo did not provide a standard eInvoicing implementation; instead, they focussed on awareness raising, giving guidance and bringing public and private sector stakeholders together. By encouraging a market-driven approach; providers have been able to sell services based on the European standard. By adopting this approach, it enabled service providers to offer different packages according to user needs such as Access Points, Finance and ERP systems.

PIANOo is in contact with the CEF team in Brussels, where it can share best practice examples with fellow member states and seek guidance from CEF when needed.

PIANOo even implemented a performance monitoring system in mid-2017 to track the progress of municipalities to ensure the Netherlands meets the deadline next April.


Source: PIANOo

The benefits of eInvoicing

Besides their story, PIANOo also emphasises that their central message to all stakeholders is that they will benefit greatly from implementing eInvoicing. These are the key benefits they share with their stakeholders:

  • Promotes cross-border eInvoicing
  • Reduces administrative burden
  • Contributes to operational savings
  • Contributes to the environment
  • Contributes to process automation
  • Prompt payment of invoices

According to PIANOo, the reduction of paper and carbon footprint associated with transportation of invoices is an environmental byproduct of eInvoicing. A significant benefit, however, is the overall cost reduction and time-saving for public entities and service providers.  

To conclude, PIANOo’s mission to implement eInvoicing succeeded because it reached out and engaged with the market and public sector to create a user-friendly platform that shares expertise and provides best practice cases with local governments and suppliers. CEF served as an inspiration, and by adapting it to the Dutch market, PIANOo is an example for fellow Member States on how local adoption of CEF services and tools can lead to national success.

Are you ready for eInvoicing in public procurement?  



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CEF eInvoicing

Summary: How eInvoicing is Connecting Europe: Building a Digital Single Market

European Commission, 2018



On 29 May 2018, the European Commission held the event 'How eInvoicing is Connecting Europe: Building a Digital Single Market'.

The event focused on the practical implementation of B2G eInvoicing in Europe in the context of Directive 2014/55/EU (on electronic invoicing in public procurement), which stipulated the definition of a common European standard on eInvoicing at semantic level (the core information contained in the eInvoice) as well as a list of syntaxes (the format or language used for transmission of the eInvoice).

As a result of this Directive, the new European standard on eInvoicing was published in October 2017. All national or central public administrations and entities must comply with the Directive by 18 April 2019, by being able to receive invoices electronically that conform with the standard. This deadline is extendable by one year for sub-national and sub-centralised public entities. The objective of the European standard on eInvoicing is to prevent the proliferation of different eInvoice formats and increase cross-border interoperability. The EU's wider objective is to contribute to innovation and modernisation of business processes by facilitating end-to-end digital public procurement in the context of the Digital Single Market.

The European Commission's Marzena Rogalska and Nikita Stampa provided a comprehensive introduction to the planned next steps in the implementation of the European standard on eInvoicing, highlighting what was achieved so far in the process. They further emphasised the benefits of eInvoicing in diverse segments of the economy and for different stakeholders, along with the policy challenges that lay ahead. 

The event presented the output of the work undertaken by the European Multi-Stakeholder Forum on eInvoicing (EMSFEI) and the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) in laying the groundwork to prepare and implement the European standard. The outputs of the three main EMSFEI working groups are available through the following links: Sub-group 1 (Implementation guidance)Sub-group 2 (CIUS use)Sub-group 3 (Additional requirements).

In addition, the event showcased the services of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) eInvoicing Building Block, available to public and private entities to support their activities to comply with the standard and participants were able to learn about the CEF grant funding opportunities of up to €5 million, in support of the adoption of compliant eInvoicing solutions by both public and private entities. This CEF funding covers up to 75% of the costs of implementation. The deadline for applications is 18 September 2018.

During panel discussions, representatives from the private and public sectors presented their countries’ experiences with the implementation of the eInvoicing Directive, providing the audience with tested methods on how to apply the European standard, and eventually, on how to go 'beyond' the scope of the Directive. Another panel discussion focused on the benefits of the CEF eInvoicing implementation workshops and how they contribute to the implementation of the Directive in a national context.

Participants and members of the eInvoicing community are invited to maintain the discussion online, so please check for any updates on the eInvoicing User Community and look out for potential webinars or other activities contributing to the implementation of the Directive.

A full recording of the event is available here and all presentations are on the event page for your information and re-use.