eIDAS is flourishing
European cooperation enabling the mutual recognition of eID schemes across borders is moving at place during the spring of 2019, and brings encouraging numbers:
Figure 1: Status of pre-notification, peer review and notification upon May 3rd, 2019. Source: CEF Digital
Between February and May 2019, three Member States have pre-notified new eID schemes and initiated the procedure of peer review in view of a future notification under the eIDAS regulation. The eIDAS regulation (EU) 910/2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market foresees that if a Member State offers an online public service to citizens or businesses for which access is granted based on an electronic identification scheme, then they must also recognise the notified eIDs of other Member States. This objective is supported by the principle of mutual recognition of (notified) eID schemes across the EU.
Latvia has pre-notified its national eID scheme, including its eID karte, eParaksts karte, eParaksts karte+ and eParaksts on 4 February 2019;
- Slovakia has pre-notified its national eID scheme, including its Slovak Citizen eCard and Foreigner eCard on 18 April 2019;
Belgium has pre-notified its mobile eID scheme called itsme® on 18 April 2019, following a prior notification of its national eID card (cf. pre-notification article);
On top of these pre-notifications, an additional eID scheme has finalised the notification process and is joining the ever-growing list of recognised eID schemes under eIDAS:
- The United Kingdom successfully notified GOV.UK Verify on 2 May 2019, a nationally-issued eID scheme based on a federation of private identity providers which had been previously pre-notified in August 2018.
Latvian eID scheme
In May 2019, the Republic of Latvia pre-notified its national eID Scheme, there are four types of electronic identification means (EIM).
The first one - the 'eID karte' - is a classic chip-enabled national identity card.
Figure 2: Latvian eID Karte
The other three means “eParaksts karte”, “eParaksts karte+” and "eParaksts", are personal identification documents that can be used both for confirming a person's identity, in order to access services online, and for signing digital documents. In addition, personal attributes are hosted on the smartcard or on the secure key management application of the user's mobile device. Information is protected by 2 factors (PIN code and possession of a corresponding device - smartcard or mobile device).
Figure 3: eParaksts Karte
Slovak's Electronic Identity Card
In April 2019, Slovakia pre-notified its national eID cards (Slovak eID) and its electronic residence permits. Both means are based on smarcard with a chip with stong cryptographic protocols. The issuance of eID cards in this format has begun in December 2013. Residence permits followed four months later, from April 2014 onward. Electronic functionality includes the secure identification of natural persons based on a two-factor authentication.
Figure 4: Slovak eID card and resident permit
Figure 5: Itsme® app
Itsme® is the product of Belgian Mobile ID, a consortium of four leading banks (Belfius, BNP Paribas Fortis, ING, KBC) and three mobile network operators (Orange Belgium, Proximus, Telenet) in Belgium. This highly-secure mobile phone app lets the user log in safely to confirm its personal ID and share its data during digital interactions with service providers. The app provides a unique digital identity to every resident who is older than 18 years in Belgium and in possession of a mobile phone and a Belgian Citizen eCard or Foreigner eCard.
Itsme® is a user-friendly alternative to card readers, passwords, and multiple PIN codes. The app is available for mobile phones based on Android or iOS.
Once the app is installed, the user can apply its 5-digit itsme® code or integrated biometrics (fingerprint, faceID) to:
- log in and register to online public services;
- log in and confirm payment in online banking;
- digitally sign official documents;
Only the log-in service to access online services is included in the scope of this pre-notification.
The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) eID Building Block primarily supports the Member States in the roll-out of the eIDAS Network (the technical infrastructure which connects national eID schemes). CEF eID is a set of services (including software, documentation, training and support) provided by the European Commission and endorsed by the Member States, which helps public administrations and private Service Providers to extend the use of their online services to citizens from other European countries.
CEF eDelivery webinar for users of European Database on Medical Devices
On 22 May 2019, the CEF eDelivery team co-hosted a webinar with DG GROW for users of the European Database on Medical Devices (EUDAMED).
The CEF eDelivery team introduced the CEF eDelivery building block and provided information on how EUDAMED users can connect to EUDAMED using CEF eDelivery.
Over 290 participants attended this webinar. Additionally, a dedicated hand-on session for a limited group of participants provided guidance on how to send AS4 messages.
EUDAMED is an information system for exchanging legal information related to the application of European Union Directives on medical devices between the European Commission and the Member States’ competent authorities.
The new version of EUDAMED will go live in March 2020. It will be accessible to competent authorities, notified bodies, industry and the public.
This database aims to enhance overall transparency, including better access to information for public and healthcare professionals. In addition, the objective is to avoid multiple reporting requirements, to enhance coordination between the Member States and to streamline and facilitate the flow of information between economic operators, notified bodies or sponsors and the Member States, and between the Member States among themselves and with the European Commission.
The deployment of CEF eDelivery in EUDAMED is foreseen to have a considerable impact on the market, as this system will allow for the transmission of data from more than 80 000 manufacturers and notified bodies.
How eDelivery is changing logistics for the better and for good
After a successful message exchange pilot, Portuguese port administrations chose eDelivery as their preferred means for communication.
@Port of Leixões by Steidi / Adobe Stock
- Project: e-IMPACT
- Locations: Ports of Lisbon and Leixões in Portugal; Port of Trieste in Italy; Ports of Gdansk, Gdynia, Szczecin and Świnoujście in Poland.
- Project coordinator: Port Administration of Lisbon, Portugal
- Challenge: How to simplify and reduce the cost of exchanging information between the different actors across transportation modes and borders?
- Solution: Use e-Freight to exchange standards compliant messages through the e-Delivery network
- Building Block: eDelivery
- EU funded: 50%
Collaboration across borders
During a consignment's journey, there are several entities involved including service providers and regulatory authorities. They all need different types of information about the cargo to carry out their respective tasks. In addition, several transportation modes, such as water, rail and road, are often used in a single journey, requiring mode specific data and reports. With so many entities involved, there are problems communicating across the various modes of transportation and borders. Even though communication standards exist, no single standard prevails. Consequently, two entities wanting to facilitate communication have to develop point-to-point connections between their information systems, which is expensive and resource intensive to establish. In the end, most communication happens via email.
To solve the problem, the European Commission requested a single framework for information exchange in transport and logistics in 2008. Once this framework, now called e-Freight, was standardised by the International Organization for Standardisation (ISO/IEC 19845) in 2015, a consortium was built among the Portuguese, Polish and Italians to take on the task of testing the standard in practice. The objective was to assess if costs could be reduced by sending e-Freight compliant messages using the European Commission’s existing eDelivery message exchange solution.
The project ran from July 2015 to June 2018. The Port Administration of Lisbon (Portugal) acted as coordinator, with the other members consisting of Baltic Container Terminal Gdynia (Poland), Qumak (Poland), DBA Lab (Italy), Europa Multipurpose Terminals (Italy), Rete Autostrade Mediterranee (Italy), Link Campus University (Italy), Insight8 (Italy) and the Port Administration of Douro, Leixões and Viana do Castelo (Portugal).
The e-Freight standard simplified information by identifying four common organisational roles and defining a minimum set of electronic documents needed for any entity, in any role, to communicate and carry out their tasks. These documents include eWaybills, itineraries and transport service descriptions. eDelivery is used to exchange these documents securely and reliably. The architecture is based on open service business platforms that connect potential clients, service providers, network controllers and other authorities. With e-Freight and eDelivery, a new pattern emerged in transports and logistics.
The consortium chose the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programme's eDelivery Access Points to build their message exchange network, because eDelivery is well established, secure and scalable, as it is supported and maintained by the European Commission. Any entity can connect to the common e-Freight message exchange infrastructure by implementing an eDelivery Access Point, as is shown in the illustration below. If an entity already has an eDelivery Access Point, it can also be used to exchange e-Freight messages, since the Access Points are agnostic of message content. Access Points accept the language and message structure to be e-Freight compliant in order to make the document contents interoperable, meaning understandable by all other systems. To jump start piloting, e-IMPACT adopted Domibus, the Commission's reference implementation of an Access Point.
@Illustration of solution by the Port Administration of Leixões.
Hinterland entities refer to all entities residing on the departing port's side. Foreland entities refer to those on the side of the destination port. Portuguese ports connect to the infrastructure through a Logistics Single Window (in Portuguese abbreviated as JUL), more on this later.
Results and benefits
The pilot proved that exchanging e-Freight messages with eDelivery is easy, scalable and low in cost. No point-to-point connections were required. Communication and transparency were enhanced with standardised, unambiguous and secure messages exchanged between all parties. For example, logistics service providers were able to provide transparent communication to clients regarding contracting, planning, execution and status. They were also able to provide timely reports on security and compliance to transportation regulation authorities, and status reports to transportation network controllers.
Status updates are sent based on user interaction on the mobile app or the online web portal. Status updates are also triggered by automatic port systems and equipment, such as the Gate-In/Gate-Out or the VIA VERDE - a vehicle identification device that sends information on vehicles crossing "electronic tolls". Best of all, all exchange of information happens electronically with no paper, phone or costs.
"The Port of Leixões assumes the role of key driver for innovation in Portugal and during the e-IMPACT project, proposed piloting the adoption of the eDelivery Access Points as a way to promote a cost-effective solution for interoperability between stakeholders, such as authorities, transportation network managers, logistics service providers and logistics service clients. eDelivery revealed to be an excellent solution to unlock interoperability and we believe this solution will trigger a new generation of collaborative logistics."
Luís Marinho Dias, Co-Director for Innovation and Modernisation,
Port of Leixões, Portugal
Portugal's Logistics Single Window
Based on the positive results of the e-IMPACT pilot, Portugal decided to adopt eDelivery for exchanging message in all of its port across the country. Access Points will be used to exchange e-Freight messages, but are capable of sending other standardised messages, too. The solution, which is envisioned to spread across all transportation modes in the future, is called the Logistics Single Window (in Portuguese abbreviated as JUL). The next steps are to:
- Implement Access Points in all Portuguese ports
- Create awareness among stakeholders, such as software houses to provide solutions and services around e-Freight and eDelivery
- Organise workshops and meetings to present solution, specifications and support to all who are interested in joining the network
@Vision for Logistics Single Window (JUL) by the JUL project
According to the vision, all parties are connected to a private cloud provided by the Portuguese government via eDelivery Access Points. Users can use mobile applications or the web browser to access data and exchange messages. Critical business processes are digitised and harmonised across all ports, and in the future, across all modes of transportation. As a result, the solution will bring transparency, process efficiency and cost reductions.
"Portugal has been investing in providing an advanced collaborative digital platform for its logistics networks. It is called the Logistics Single Window (JUL). eDelivery brings a proper interoperability framework to support this initiative. It provides an open, accessible and easy-to-use technology that reduces costs and complexity of integrating business partners and systems across transportation chains. eDelivery also has the potential to further support the Portuguese port cluster in their effort to set up completely harmonised processes at national level.”
José Carlos Simão, Directorate-General for Natural Resources,
Safety and Maritime Services, Portugal
How can you get started?
If you are interested in using eDelivery to build your own message exchange infrastructure, our website describes the technical documentation and support services that are available to all. We would be happy to help you get started, visit us at the link below to learn more.
CEF eArchiving Geopreservation Conference - highlights & recording
Joze Skofljanec, Archives of the Republic of Slovenia
The geopreservation community gathered for the first CEF eArchiving Geopreservation conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia on the 6-7 May 2019.
The two-day event brought together producers of geospatial information, archives, data repositories and solution providers to discuss various geopreservation topics. CEF eArchiving is very proud of this first, successful, conference that facilitated the discussion around geopreservation and necessary geospatial specifications.
An increasing amount of digital information also includes a spatial component. This might be applications installed on smartphones, which help us navigate the traffic or support food-delivery services. Spatial data preservation is therefore an important topic to discuss and one which needs greater awareness. Policy decisions, such as infrastructure or mobility developments, are dependent on spatial information. However, the environment in which all this information is created and managed is not made with long-term preservation in mind. Decades of experience with digital spatial data management shows the preservation of data especially the urgency to maintain data usability over time.
This is why the CEF eArchiving Building Block team organised this conference, promoting common specifications and how they can facilitate the preservation of geospatial data preservation to build a Digital Single Market. The CEF eArchiving Building Block, built on the E-ARK specifications, is the driver for long-term information assurance, meaning that digital preservation, records management, and digital archives in general are recognised as critical pillars for the Digital Single Market. The building block offers services, such as training materials and a service desk to help interested entities get started with geopreservation, or data preservation in general.
This conference enabled geopreservation experts to come together and discuss key factors that affect the handling of geospatial data, its preservation and its further usability. It connected different geospatial community stakeholders (data creators, regulators, solution and service providers, archives, academia) from Europe and around the world, offering an opportunity for them to share their experience and solutions, face their common challenges and issues, and learn from each other.
Nearly €28 million requested for CEF Telecom projects
Requested budget (€)
Available budget (€)
The Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) has received 49 project proposals by the 14 May deadline for the 2019-1 CEF Telecom call, requesting nearly €28 million in total EU funding. The total available budget for the call is €19,2 million. Evaluation of the project proposals with the help of external experts will start in June.
What are the next steps?
Deadline for submission
14 May 2019
Evaluation of proposals
June - August 2019
Consultation of the CEF Committee
Information to the European Parliament
Adoption of the Selection Decisions
Preparation and signature of grant agreements
Between October and February 2020
In the meantime, take a moment to read the Connecting Europe Success Stories and INEA's CEF-Telecom Project country pages and see how projects reusing the CEF Building Blocks build a Digital Single Market in Europe.
eInvoicing: Upgrade to EAS and VATEX – Submit by 31 May 2019 for inclusion in next release
On 15 June 2019, the European Commission will publish updated versions of the EAS and VATEX code lists. Requests for change may be submitted at any time. Requests for change made by 31 May 2019 will be included in the 15 June 2019 update. Requests received after the deadline will be processed for next versions later this year.
The European standard on eInvoicing defines the business term "VAT exemption reason code", which allows sellers to state in a coded way the VAT exemption reason, in order to support automation of VAT processing and reporting. The VAT EXemption reason code list — VATEX contains the codes that are allowed in the EN 16931. The European standard also defines the business term "Electronic Address" to support the identification of sending an receiving parties in electronic addresses when exchanging eInvoices through transmission networks. The identifiers used in the an electronic address can be from any identification scheme. The Electronic Address Scheme code list - EAS contains a list of the identification schemes that can be used in the eInvoicing standard.
Requests for Change should be submitted through the CEF Service Desk.
The Commission supports the adoption eInvoicing respecting the European Standard with the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) eInvoicing building block. The services of this Building Block help European administrations comply with the eInvoicing Directive, and helps solution providers adapt their services accordingly. CEF eInvoicing provides:
- eInvoicing Service Desk
- eInvoicing on-site and remote Trainings
- eInvoicing Readiness Checker
- eInvoicing Conformance Testing
New version of the CEF eDelivery Market Guide for AS4 Solutions and Services released!
The European Commission has published an updated version of the Market Guide for AS4 Solutions and Services in the context of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) eDelivery building block.
This document provides an overview of some of the main AS4 solutions and services available to eDelivery users. It covers both solutions already used for eDelivery AS4, solutions that are used for the similar AS4 profile developed by the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas (ENTSOG), as well as other solutions and services. The document also addresses AS4 conformance and interoperability testing done within CEF and by the Drummond Group.
With this document end users can save time collecting their long-list of candidates and so accelerate their implementations. Users of CEF eDelivery can procure these solutions in an environment in which multiple solution providers compete for business. This competition incentivises providers to provide quality solutions and value for money.
Download the Guide:
CEF is promoting the adoption of the AS4 message exchange protocol developed during the e-SENS Large Scale Pilot project. By using open standards such as AS4, which is also used by other communities internationally, CEF eDelivery benefits from and contributes to the synergies and network effect of using open, internationally adopted standards. Multiple commercial and open source implementations exist for AS4 and are available to public administrations and companies in Europe.
CEF eDelivery is a network of nodes for digital communications. It is based on a distributed model where every participant becomes a node using standard transport protocols and security policies. It helps public administrations to exchange electronic data and documents with other public administrations, businesses and citizens, in an interoperable, secure, reliable and trusted way.
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.
N.B: This document is based on public information that is presented at industry events, published on company websites, and / or disclosed by the listed companies. The information contained in the document is non-exhaustive as well as non-contractual in nature. Please consult the document for a full disclaimer.
CEF eArchiving in Germany
@Bundesarchiv /Dahlmanns, Tim
The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) eArchiving building block team, invited by the National Archives of Germany, was in Berlin to present the CEF Building Blocks and eArchiving on the 25th of April 2019.
The National Archives of Germany invited CEF to present the eArchiving specifications, developed by E-ARK, including OAIS and METS that are open-source and easily accessible via CEF Digital. With this invitation and event, the organisers hoped to raise awareness of CEF eArchiving and the specifications in the German archiving community.
The afternoon kicked-off with four presentations:
- Dr. Sebastian Gleixner (Bundesarchiv): Mass data as challenge: An overview of digital archiving in the Federal Archive
- Dr. Ulrike Korte (Federal Office for Information Security ): Introduction to eIDAS, ETSI Long-Term Preservation (LTP) und BSI TR-03125 (TR-ESOR)
- Steffen Schwalm (msg systems ag; in Vertretung für Herrn Sandro Hardy, Bundesarchiv): Nutzungsmöglichkeiten des E-ARK4ALL-SIPs
- Sophia Bünemann (Europäische Kommission): Introduction to the Building Blocks of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) of the European Commission
- Janet Anderson (National Archive Denmark): E-ARK4ALL - the project that created a building block
- Karin Bredenberg (Reichsarchiv Schweden): The eArchiving Building Block core specifications for filling up the European fridges
This was followed by the podium discussion including Ms. Karin Bredenberg, Dr. Ulrike Korte, Mr. Steffen Schwalm and Prof Dr. Christian Keitel (State Archives of Baden-Wurrtenberg), moderated by Ms. Dr. Sina Westphal (Federal Archive) and Dr. Sebastian Gleixner.
The discussion revolved around the future perspective of the implementation of eArchiving, based on E-ARK specifications, in existing archiving systems and standards in Germany. In addition, the purpose, sustainability and risks of standardisation were discussed. In the process, it emerged that all participants in the discussion would favour a stronger standardisation of the transfer information packages (SIPs) in order to be able to simplify the associated workflows and make them more efficient
The same should apply to the information packs for purposes of use (DIPs) in order to facilitate data exchange in this area. When processing the information packages in the respective archiving systems, opinions were more likely to avoid, as far as possible, any form of rigid regulation. The use of digital signature techniques (signatures, seals, timestamps, evidence records) for authenticity, integrity and their agreement with the E-ARK information systems was also an issue. Which techniques should be used depends primarily on whether the preservation of evidence or the preservation of information is in the foreground.
The final discussion with the audience expressed the importance of improving the interoperability of different archival approaches and data sharing through common standards, while still maintaining flexibility in technical innovation. At the same time, however, everyone became aware that the discussions are far from over.
Please find a copy of this article on the Federal Archives site (in German) and the presentations below:
Dr. Sebastian Gleixner- Mass as a challenge 01-gleixner.pdf
Ulrike Korte, eIDAS, ETSI Long-Term Preservation 02-korte.pdf
Sophia Bunemann, the CEF Building Blocks 04-buenemann.pdf
Janet Anderson, E-ARK4ALL 05-anderson.pdf
Karin Bredenberg, The eArchiving Building Block core specifications 06-bredenberg.pdf
To learn more about the CEF Building Blocks, visit CEF Digital.
Denmark’s e-Boks publishes report - UN Global Compact Communication on Progress 2018
The e-Boks UN Global Compact Communication on Progress 2018 report, published on 25 April 2019, shows the impact of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) eDelivery Building Block in the context of the UN global compact.
e-Boks is a leading Nordic digitalisation partner, providing a secure platform for communication. e-Boks is a private partnership between Nets and PostNord (public postal office in Denmark and Sweden) and offers companies, institutions and citizens a secure platform for the digital distribution and storage of electronic messages.
e-Boks has made a concerted effort to invest in scalable digital solutions, such as the CEF eDelivery Building Block. A Connecting Europe Success Story, published in March 2018, explored how e-Boks chose to adopt CEF eDelivery to deliver secure messages across borders.
This report highlights the benefits brought about by digitalisation. This includes an estimated saving of 8 000 tonnes of paper, 60 000 trees and 2,8 billion litres of water alone in 2018, and the projections into the future are very good for the environment. e-Boks CEO Ulrik Falkner Thagesen states:
"e-Boks is an active partner with the European Commission’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Digital programme. In 2018, e-Boks chose to adopt CEF eDelivery as it provides highly secure and reliable messaging technology that allows the secure exchange of sensitive data among our 16 million users with over 485 million transactions annually – mainly in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, but also in Finland, the United Kingdom and Luxembourg. eDelivery is part of our strategy to expand our business into markets such as Ireland, France, Germany, and beyond, in the coming years."
Read the report now to learn more.
CEF eDelivery helps public administrations to exchange electronic data and documents with other public administrations, businesses and citizens, in an interoperable, secure, reliable and trusted way. CEF eDelivery is one of the building blocks of the CEF programme. The CEF Building Blocks (Big Data Test Infrastructure, Context Broker, Archiving, eDelivery, eID, eInvoicing, eSignature and eTranslation) are reusable specifications, software and services that will form part of a wide variety of IT systems in different policy domains of the EU.
Visit CEF Digital to see how the CEF Building Blocks can make the most of digital transformation in your organisation.
Gertrud Ingestad presents the European perspective at the eID Days in Stockholm
Over 4-5 April 2019, electronic identity experts and enthusiasts attended the ‘e-legitimationsdagarna’, or eID Days in Stockholm, Sweden. The Digital Government Review (DIGG) of Sweden organised the event.
The eighth edition of the conference, the largest since its conception, was a forum for participants to better understand why electronic identification is a prerequisite for successful digitisation, what this means in practice and what you need to do to succeed.
As people and businesses become ever more interconnected, secure and seamless electronic identification becomes a necessity, from the largest corporations to the town hall.
The conference opening keynotes explored just this. Adam Cooper - Director ID Crowd, UK – opened the event and presented the global perspective. Gertrud Ingestad – Director-General of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Informatics (DIGIT) – presented electronic identification from the European perspective. Subsequently, Tor Alvik - Head of Digital Strategies and Coordination, Difi, Norway – presented the Nordic perspective and Ann Linde – Minister for Foreign Trade and Minister for Nordic Affairs in Sweden – presented the Swedish perspective.
The European dimension links the global to the local. Action at European level creates a continent-wide level playing field for European companies, allowing them to innovate and provide services to a much greater marketplace than they might alone. The EU’s core freedoms, the movement of goods, services, capital and people make Europe a model for the most ambitious visions of global cooperation.
Gertrud Ingestad presented how, when building a Digital Single Market, the Commission adopted the same approach which made Europe’s Single Market a success. The eIDAS Regulation created a common legal framework ensuing digital services have the same legal validity as paper process. This ensures that digital services can be trusted and work securely across borders, so that citizens and businesses benefit from the convenience of digital services and can make the most of the Digital Single Market.
Alongside common legal frameworks, she explained how common and open-source standards and specifications build interoperability into the heart of Europe’s digital ecosystem. The ISA² Programme develops interoperability solutions, generally available for free, supporting interoperability between Europe’s public administration. Funded through the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programme, the eID, eSignature and eDelivery Building Blocks are basic components that ensure national I.T. systems – in this case, authentication systems– can communicate with each other.
Finally, Gertrud Ingestad outlined how the Commission adopts the very same processes and solutions itself. Following the publication of the European Commission Digital Strategy in November 2018, the Commission committed to becoming a digitally transformed, user-focused and data-driven administration by 2022. This means that the Commission builds its own authentication applications based on the same standards and legal frameworks as Building Blocks, such as EU Login, EU Sign and EU Send.
You can download Gertrud’s presentation (in English) below, and find video clips prepared for the event by the conference organisers.
Remember the future (e-legitimationsforum.se) is a video from Freja eID on Vimeo. All content is the property and responsibility of the creator and the European Commission takes no responsibility for opinions expressed.
CEF Building Blocks presented at Releasing the Power of Procurement
On 2 May 2019, the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Building Blocks were presented at the event "Releasing the Power of Procurement" in Brussels, Belgium.
This workshop addressed the issue that current public procurement processes are struggling to keep up with the fast pace of digital innovation in key application domains such as smart cities, health-care and energy.
The workshop sought to stimulate a debate on the benefits and shortcomings of public procurement processes and how to fix the shortcomings to benefit both public purchasers and the local innovation ecosystem.
Participants discussed the role of open standards for public administrations and the local innovation ecosystem for procuring digital, IoT-enabled solutions. It also explored possible ways forward in deepening the European cooperation in procurement of innovative IoT solutions and services and showcased innovative procurement methods from advanced sectors as well as domain frontrunners.
Joao Rodrigues Frade presenting the CEF Building Blocks: "SMEs & Public Procurement".
Mr Joao Rodrigues Frade, Head of Sector, Building Blocks, DG DIGIT, European Commission presented the CEF Building Blocks during the session SMEs & Public Procurement
To build a Digital Single Market, CEF funds a set of generic and reusable Digital Service Infrastructures (DSI), or 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 eight building blocks: Big Data Test Infrastructure, Context Broker, eArchiving, eDelivery, eID, eInvoicing, eSignature and eTranslation.
The Building Blocks ensure interoperability between national IT systems so that citizens, businesses and administrations can benefit from seamless digital public services wherever they may be in Europe. The Building Blocks consist of the following elements:
- At the core of each building block, a layer of technical specifications and standards that have to be complied with;
- To facilitate the implementation of the technical specifications and standards, a layer of sample software that complies with them and is meant for reuse (for certain building blocks only);
- To facilitate the adoption of the technical specifications and standards, a layer of services (e.g. conformance testing, help desks, onboarding services, etc.) meant for use (which varies depending on the building block).
To learn more about how the CEF Building Blocks can benefit you, visit the CEF Digital site.
The recording of the workshop will be available soon here. You can also download the slides:
Government of Flanders introduces early payment with e-invoicing
Reaching a solution required intense collaboration among public authorities, as well as between the public and private sectors, to reduce payment processing time and save on costs.
@Photo by the Government of Flanders. The main building of the Flemish authorities, based in Brussels.
- Country: Belgium
- Organisations: The Government of Flanders and the Belgian Federal Administration
- Project: e-invoicing project (e-facturatieproject)
- Challenge: How to optimise invoice payment process to speed up approvals and enable early payment?
- Solution: Digitally connecting private sector suppliers with public sector buyers via the PEPPOL Network, enabling the sending and receiving of e-invoices.
- Building Blocks: CEF eInvoicing and eDelivery (embedded in PEPPOL)
- CEF funded: No
Process efficiencies as driving force
In 2013, Flanders, the northern part of Belgium consisting of five Dutch-speaking provinces, set about to define its e-invoicing policy in close collaboration with the Belgian federal administration. At the onset, the Flemish government was receiving paper invoices, which were cumbersome to manually enter into their accounting systems, had long approval periods, and always ended up being payed on the very last payment date. Driven by the will to improve the efficiency of the payment process, the Flemish government looked for a digital solution that could enable early payment.
A few years later, in 2015, the Flemish government and the federal administration decided to adopt the PEPPOL agreement framework in order to develop an e-invoicing solution that would work for all. Consequently, there was a strong push from many local stakeholders to ensure that all accounting packages on the Belgian market could facilitate the sending of e-invoices via the PEPPOL network. This was achieved through intense collaboration among public authorities, as well as between public and private sector entities. IT organisations from AGORIA, the Belgian employers' organisation and trade association, were instrumental in realising this goal, with the Federation of Belgian Enterprises (VBO/FEB) also supporting the project in the B2B sector.
Commission supported solution
The PEPPOL network is based on technical specifications from the European Union’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) building blocks, namely eInvoicing and eDelivery. The European Standard on electronic invoicing (EN), supported by the eInvoicing building block, defines common specifications on how electronic invoices should be constructed and what elements they should contain. The eDelivery building block defines common specifications for exchanging digital documents (in this case e-invoices) securely and reliably.
The key implementation steps taken during the project were:
- Policy decisions – In 2013, the Government of Flanders decided to fully commit to e-invoicing. The decision was reaffirmed in 2016, when e-invoicing was made mandatory for all suppliers of the Government of Flanders.
- IT infrastructure – A central platform, called Mercurius, was established to connect all Belgian contracting authorities to the PEPPOL network. Mercurius bridges the PEPPOL model with the internal Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) of the Belgian public sector. The federal government assumed responsibility for Mercurius, as well as the PEPPOL Authority.
- Integrations – The 15+ existing accounting systems present at the Government of Flanders were technically prepared to be able to accept e-invoices as of 01/01/2015.
- Raising awareness – A comprehensive strategy to inform suppliers included communication on the Flemish government website, monthly information sessions, a dedicated project support group for larger companies with complex invoicing processes, consultations with accounting platform and e-invoicing service providers, and a helpdesk for an in-house portal.
Results show impressive growth
The Government of Flanders reports on its results on a monthly basis. In February 2019, 58.5 % of all invoices received by the Government of Flanders were fully-fledged e-invoices based on PEPPOL and XML. Overall, the growth in the percentage of e-invoices received has been impressive over the past 2 years, increasing from only 8 % of invoices being electronic in early 2017, to nearly 60 % in early 2019.
@Percentage of e-invoices received by the Government of Flanders
There are, however, significant disparities between government entities. For example, 89 % of invoices received by the Flemish Public Transport Company were fully-fledged e-invoices, while for some other entities, only 35 % of invoices received were in electronic format.
The four major benefits of e-invoicing are:
- Reduced processing time – Time between invoice receipt and approval is reduced by an average of 10 days, allowing e-invoices to be paid more swiftly.
- Cost saving – As invoices can be paid faster and more accurately, the amount accrued in interest on arrears that is associated with late payments is also reduced.
- Improved order – E-invoicing optimises customer and supplier files at companies and public authorities.
- Time efficient – Invoice processing is more automated, freeing up time for other tasks.
Future & lessons learnt
The Government of Flanders and the federal government have taken the lead in e-invoicing in Belgium, and will be raising awareness among local authorities and all other government administrations of the obligations and solutions to meet the requirements of the European Directive (2014/55/EU) on electronic invoicing. The Flemish approach has been successfully more ambitious than the requirements of the Directive – not only have Flemish public authorities implemented e-invoicing, but they also enforce suppliers to comply.
"Everyone agrees on the numerous advantages of e-invoicing, to both senders and receivers, but it was only making it mandatory that it actually took off," says the e-invoicing team from the Government of Flanders unanimously.
There are three key priorities for 2019:
- Raising awareness – Promoting e-invoicing via PEPPOL for all public sector organisations in Flanders, and all of Belgium.
- Supporting the ordering process – Rolling out e-ordering in PEPPOL, already in production for the first suppliers and public sector invoice recipients.
- The sending of e-invoices in PEPPOL by public organisations – This will promote the propagation of PEPPOL and, more importantly, the uptake of cross-sector eProcurement in Belgium – and in Europe.
How can you get started?
Our website provides details on the building blocks with accompanying technical documentation and support services that are available to all. We would be happy to help you get started, visit us at the links below to learn more.
Badajoz Is More - the journey to become a smart province
Badajoz uses Context Broker to digitally connect public administrations, local businesses and citizens to increase innovation, entrepreneurship and overall quality of life.
- Organisation: Provincial Council of Badajoz, in Extremadura, western Spain
- Project: Badajoz Is More
- Challenge: How to create sustainable development and prevent rural exodus
- Solution: An innovation ecosystem and a central platform for smart services powered by FIWARE Context Broker
- Building Block: Context Broker
- EU funded: No
Sustainable development through technology
Even though Badajoz is rather sparsely populated, it is the largest province in Spain, located in the western part of the country. For years, the region has seen young citizens emigrate to more urban areas in search of jobs and a better quality of life. In 2018, the Provincial Council of Badajoz embarked on an ambitious initiative, called ‘Badajoz Is More’, to increase the attractiveness of the region by using technology.
The 'Badajoz Is More' initiative provides tools and services based on Internet of Things (IoT) and big data technologies in order to foster sustainable development by turning Badajoz into a smart province. Badajoz envisioned bridging the digital gap between urban and non-urban areas in order to avoid rural exodus. To do this, the provincial council decided to improve the cost-efficiency of municipal services by centralising all services into a single smart platform that would optimise internal processes, increase transparency, enhance the overall effectiveness of decisions, and empower citizens with more knowledge and control through intuitive, digital public services. They also wanted to use technology to promote local entrepreneurship and job creation.
To fully realise this initiative, work was divided into three tracks:
- Implementation of the central platform: ‘Provincial Platform for Smart Public Services Management’
- Creation of a Technical Office for strategic, technological and administrative activities
- Creation of an Innovation Ecosystem to promote entrepreneurship and job creation
The ‘Provincial Platform for Smart Public Services Management’ is the central platform, which collects and processes data from the Badajoz Provincial Council and the different town halls. After the platform was created, the team connected IoT-based smart solutions to it, starting from Smart Waste Management, Smart Water Cycle Management, and Smart Street Lighting. The data collection from different sources and their collective analysis are enabled by Context Broker, the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programme's Building Block for making data driven decisions in real time, at the right time. The services and support offered by the European Commission's CEF programme are based on the technical specifications defined by FIWARE, an association for promoting open and interoperable IoT-based smart services.
As is shown in the illustration below, there are two different dashboards to visualise information. One is an executive dashboard with management reports and service management indicators. The other is an operational dashboard to display real-time status indicators and predictive analytics. With the platform, all connected public administrations will be able to manage, monitor and control smart services for informed, efficient and transparent decisions.
@Illustration by the Provincial Council of Badajoz
The Technical Office performs strategic, technological and administrative activities for the project. For example, it provides indicators on resource efficiency, service activity and overall territory benchmarking, which are provided by Context Broker.
The creation of the Innovation Ecosystem around technologies aims to promote entrepreneurship and job creation in the Badajoz region. The ecosystem serves as a meeting point between entrepreneurs, educational entities, local businesses, public entities and citizens to discuss and identify development and business opportunities brought by the new technologies. This ecosystem provides the community with a central contact point to learn and experiment with digital tools and services.
Results and benefits
The Badajoz Provincial Council has successfully provided digital services to municipalities, local businesses, educational entities, citizens and other stakeholders in the region. With the smart city expertise shared with local entities, the initiative was also able to digitally connect with sparsely populated areas. Through Context Broker, Badajoz now has a highly scalable, flexible and interoperable solution for smart services. The platform is secure, reliable and based on a vendor-neutral, open-source technology. This means that it will be easy for anyone to connect their IoT-based service to the platform and offer it to anyone they want.
Context Broker provides a flexible and highly scalable foundation on which, the province can easily connect new IoT and big data based public services regardless of technology or vendor.
'Badajoz Is More' has something to offer for everyone:
- Public administrations - better management of services and more informed decision making
- Citizens - improved quality of public services provided
- Service providers - possibility to offer improved services
- ICT sector - promotion of innovation, cooperation and new business development
More smart services in the future
In the future, the province plans to further pilot smart services in other areas, such as in managing parking, tourism, and sports facilities. These pilots will also be integrated into the same ‘Provincial Platform of Smart Public Service Management’, due to the vast data collection abilities of Context Broker.
The province aims to become the national reference for smart territory solutions. It will continue to create synergies between local businesses, start-ups and public administrations to further expand the free flow of information in order to connect communities.
How can you get started?
The Context Broker was established in 2018 to help organisations share data in real time, at the right time. The documentation and support services are described on our website and available to all. We would be happy to help you get started, visit us at Context Broker to learn more.
eInvoicing Ireland and CEF Digital Implementation Workshop
An eInvoice is an invoice issued, transmitted and received in a structured data format that allows for its automatic and electronic processing. Businesses and public administrations throughout Europe benefit from the adoption of eInvoicing in terms of both reduced costs and environmental impact. The European standard on eInvoicing reduces the number of standards and specifications limiting market opportunities for suppliers and contractors and ultimately impeding Europe’s Single Market.
Building the eInvoicing community in Ireland among the public sector bodies really started in earnest following the eInvoicing Ireland and CEF Digital event in 2018. Last month’s event attracted over 210 delegates representing public sector bodies.
The workshop proved timely ahead of the 18 April 2019 legal deadline for the transposition of the Directive into national law and implementation of the European standard (by authorities at central level). The workshop’s hosts, eInvoicing Ireland, particularly welcomed the opportunity to bring the relevant people across the public sector together in a single workshop and provide them with all the information they need to implement eInvoicing, forming an invaluable part of the national approach to facilitating eInvoicing implementation in Ireland.
The Commission will continue to provide such workshops, trainings or webinars to interested Member States until 2020, promoting the uptake of eInvoicing, the European standard and other relevant CEF Building Blocks.
The implementation workshops are provided in English and are offered on-site or remotely (online). The contents can be tailored to your specific needs, with a duration ranging from half a day to two days. Please note that the workshops are available at no cost but on a first-come first-served basis. The host country to facilitate logistics (including provision of facilities) and to identify and invite participants from both private and public sector.