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CEF Big Data Building Block features at Moscow Urban Forum

Scene of central Moscow from the  Moskva in winterr

On 10 December 2020, Roberto Barcellan, from the European Commission's Directorate-General for Informatics (DIGIT), spoke at the Moscow Urban Forum about how the European Commission is helping cities leverage big datasets to come up with concrete action plans for adapting to crises like the coronavirus pandemic.

The digitalisation of services, whether from public administrations or private companies, is a trend that was on the rise even before the COVID-19 pandemic, which is now pushing organisations to adapt even faster so they can offer online services to citizens. Since 2014, the European Commission has been actively helping public administrations and businesses throughout the European Union in their digital transformation through open, reusable digital solutions called the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Building Blocks. 

Two Building Blocks in particular, the Big Data Test Infrastructure (BDTI) and the Context Broker, are helping cities all over Europe become "Smart Cities" by leveraging the data they collect to inform policy and day-to-day decision-making to run cities more efficiently. 

The CEF Big Data Test Infrastructure (BDTI) is a ready-to-use, scalable virtual environment for public administrations to perform analysis on large datasets. At the Moscow Urban Forum, Roberto Barcellan spoke about how the city of Florence is analysing city data with the BDTI Building Block and using the insights to ensure the safe re-opening of tourism activities.

You can find a recording of the event here.

Florence uses big data in the fight against COVID-19

The municipality of Florence collects data from numerous sources, such as public wifi sensors (location, number of users connected), traffic sensors, pollution sensors and tickets sold to museums and events. BDTI provides them with an out-of-the-box solution for analysing this data so they can predict high-risk spots in the city where overcrowding might occur. Understanding these big datasets helps them support the tourism industry so vital to the city by easing lockdown restrictions while mitigating the health risks associated.

Once relevant insights are collected through BDTI, Florence ultimately intends to scale up the REPLICATE project to include other municipalities in Tuscany. This is thanks to ongoing collaboration with Tuscany Region, and the University of Florence. The data, tools and results from this project could be shared with future pilots, as cities go smart with data tools like BDTI in an effort to curb the effects of coronavirus through innovation and collaboration.

Public administrations interested in becoming Smart Cities and knowledge-sharing with municipalities like Florence can become part of the BDTI Community by contacting the CEF BDTI team.

The Connecting Europe Facility provides free, reusable digital solutions in the fight against COVID-19

CEF free, reusable digital solutions are helping public administrations in Europe fight the virus. BDTI is also being used in Valencia to analyse vast amounts of data on COVID-19 to provide insights to clinicians and hospital managers. In addition, various regional authorities in Italy are using the CEF Context Broker to turn widely collected data into contact tracing, contagion maps and predictive analyses.

Find out how our digital solutions can help organisations during and beyond the pandemic on our dedicated COVID-19 page.

CEF Big Data Building Block new release and self-paced labs announcement

three people discussing data with stats projection

The European Commission is happy to announce the launch of CEF Big Data Test Infrastructure (BDTI) self-paced labs.

The BDTI Building Block is a ready-to-use virtual environment for public administrations to perform analysis on large datasets. This helps administrations get the most out of their data, with key insights that can drive policy-making, such as how to safely lift coronavirus restrictions by modelling the flow of citizens through a city

However, not all those who want to leverage the powerful tools made available by BDTI are data scientists. The BDTI team realised that public administrations lacking technical expertise could benefit greatly from additional guidance, both with basic data science frameworks and taking their analytical environment into an in-house production environment after a successful pilot.

This is why the Commission has created brand-new, BDTI self-paced labs, as well as a new advisory service built into the latest release of the BDTI Building Block. 

BDTI self-paced labs 

The self-paced labs are a set of user-friendly tutorials for onboarding non-technical people looking to run a BDTI pilot. Thanks to these labs, any public administration can become familiar with data science methodologies and tools, regardless of whether they have a dedicated department for such projects. 

The labs provide three main services: 

  • An interactive learning experience: the Jupyter notebook will help you get familiar with the basic coding language and methodologies to start performing analysis on large datasets; 
  • Coding frameworks: a set of popular python frameworks for working with datasets; 
  • Open source data: the labs make large datasets available for users to experiment with, sourced from the EU Open Data Portal and Kaggle, a machine-learning community.

There are two main types of self-paced lab available for pilot-users, depending on the size of the datasets you want to work with. 

For medium-sized datasets, Machine Learning labs give an introduction on how to use popular python packages for data exploration, tackling regression (predicting numerical values  of your dataset), classification (predicting predefined classes of your dataset) and clustering (grouping similar members together) machine learning problems.

Big Analytics Data Exploration labs introduce Big Data frameworks such as Apache Spark and Apache Hive to handle data exploration on huge datasets, for example, datasets over 30GBs. 

Advisory service

The beginning of 2021 also brings the latest release of the overall BDTI package, with improved infrastructure and a new advisory service.

After  pilot-users have got familiar with big data techniques , the prospect of "off-boarding" from the BDTI technical team's support can be daunting. 

This new advisory service will provide guidance on how users can take insights gained from their BDTI pilot forward, implementing a similar virtual infrastructure for data  science and big data techniques in an in-house production environment.

Want to get the most out of your data?

CEF eSignature explanation on the pivot-LOTL mechanism updated

women signing ipad with male colleague

The European Commission has updated an important text about the List of Trusted Lists (LOTL), a description of which can be found in paragraph five of this publication from the Official Journal of the European Union. The updated text, about the LOTL's "pivot mechanism", can be found here.

This will impact anybody relying on the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) eSignature building block, in particular trust service providers and eSignature software implementers, since it affects the validation of the LOTL. 

What is the LOTL? 

The LOTL is a one-stop-shop bringing together the Trusted Lists of the EU Member States and contracting parties from the EEA (European Economic Area). The Trusted Lists include the qualified signature and trust service providers in a certain country, and information about the services they provide. The trust service providers on these lists, established and managed by the Member States and submitted to the Commission's LOTL, include those that can issue qualified certificates (and often the corresponding private key on a qualified signature creation device) to those looking to create qualified signatures and other trust services.

What is the change?

To access the information in the LOTL, relying parties must know the location of the LOTL, i.e. where it is officially published, and be able to authenticate the LOTL with signing certificates.

The updated text concerns a change to the LOTL's "pivot mechanism", which eases access to the LOTL for relying parties. This mechanism allows the Commission to publish changes to the LOTL location and set of signing certificates directly in the LOTL itself - such updates are machine-processable and remove the necessity of updating the original text in the Official Journal. Each successive update creates a new "pivot LOTL",  and this chain of pivot LOTLs makes it possible to trace the historical values of the LOTL location and the LOTL-signing certificates back to those originally published in the Official Journal.

This mechanism has recently been updated so that when a new pivot LOTL is created with an updated LOTL-location, relying parties can update their systems' configuration as seamlessly as possible and mitigate risks of service disruption.

The text explaining the pivot LOTL has been updated to reflect this. The technical update and corresponding change in the explanatory text only concerns changes of the LOTL location - the mechanism for updating the LOTL-signing certificates has remained the same.

CEF eSignature 

EU Member States and the European Commission support the adoption of electronic signatures in Europe with the CEF eSignature building block. The deployment of solutions based on this building block in a Member State facilitates the mutual recognition and cross-border interoperability of e-signatures. This means that public administrations and businesses can trust and use e-signatures that are valid and structured in EU-interoperable formats.

ECHA chooses eDelivery

European Chemicals Agency chooses eDelivery for confidential information

Following the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2017/542, which adds the Annex VIII on harmonised information relating to emergency health response to the CLP Regulation (Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures Regulation), the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has decided to use the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) eDelivery building block to transfer the harmonised information. This information is highly confidential as it contains details about market products and their composition that are protected by intellectual property rights.

According to the Annex VIII of the CLP Regulation, companies using dangerous products have the obligation to provide information on these products. ECHA, as foreseen by the amended CLP Regulation, provides the format and tools to facilitate both the preparation and submission of information in a harmonised format. To this end, ECHA has developed the ECHA Submission portal which companies can use to validate and submit the notifications in the agreed format to multiple Member States at once. The valid notifications are then dispatched securely via eDelivery to the national authorities appointed by the Member States. These Member States further process them and make them available to national Poison Centres to be used in emergency health response. For those Member States not interested in receiving the notifications, ECHA has also made available an online database where Poison Centres can search for and consult the notifications.

How does eDelivery help? 

The CEF eDelivery building block provides the technical specifications and standards needed to build a secure, interoperable and reliable communication channel or network using AS4 Access Points.

ECHA has chosen to use eDelivery in order to send confidential notifications from ECHA Submission portal to the national authorities’ own IT systems. To achieve this, both ECHA and the Appointed Bodies host eDelivery Access Points.

Building with eDelivery allows ECHA to securely and reliably forward data to Member States by:

  • using signing and encryption capabilities
  • allowing machine-to-machine interoperability
  • benefiting from configurable data retention policy.

If you need to exchange documents and data reliably, securely and seamlessly, use the eDelivery building block to build your solution.

CEF Building Blocks feature at Masters of Digital 2021

Event Images from Masters of Digital 2021

At Masters of Digital, a virtual summit that took place over 3 and 4 of February 2021, European leaders and digital specialists from the public and private sector came together to discuss the role digital technology will play as a driving force in Europe's emergence from the pandemic. The event included keynote speeches from President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and President of the European Council, Charles Michel.

While digital government is undoubtedly important for a robust, adaptable Europe with secure, accessible services for citizens, this on its own is not enough to meet the ever-evolving needs of European businesses and citizens. Public administrations at all levels need to digitalise, but they also need to support private sector innovation in this area, and make sure private and public digital ecosystems, as well as those in different Member States, grow together, not apart. 

Building a digitally connecting Europe with the Building Blocks 

During a panel discussion on the second day of the event, Mario Campolargo, Director-General of the European Commission's DG for Informatics, DIGIT, spoke about the importance of open source solutions and co-creation for Europe's digital future, including Europe's SMEs and startups. He reflected specifically on the role of standards-based digital solutions, such as the CEF Building Blocks.

The recent Digital Innovation Challenge saw European SMEs invited to design innovative new services for EU citizens based on these digital solutions. Mr Campolargo was a lead juror in the jury that eventually awarded the ultimate prize of €50,000 to CleverBooks, a platform for digital education resources leveraging augmented reality to make the learning experience more engaging for young people and develop essential digital skills from a young age.

Based on international standards, the Building Blocks make any digital system built with them fully interoperable across sectors and borders, playing a key role in connecting Europe digitally. They can be used in any cross-border European digital project and offer a variety of capabilities, from the secure exchange and preservation of data with eDelivery and eArchiving respectively, to letting EU citizens authenticate themselves across borders to access services with eID and eSignature

As highlighted at Masters of Digital, as we emerge from the pandemic, digital technology is going to play a key role in how we establish new modes of living and working, but also new modes of collaboration between business, government and civil society.

Want to find out how the Building Blocks could help your project?

eDelivery supports Hermes project to implement universal eInvoicing in Belgium

The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) eDelivery Building Block is providing key support to the Hermes project, which is accelerating the uptake of electronic invoicing in Belgium. Using eDelivery, the Belgian government and the CEF team have expanded the list of organisations able to receive eInvoices to include all (almost 1.8 million) Belgian economic operators, which are now encoded as participants in the PEPPOL eDelivery network.

The Hermes Project

eInvoicing (the use of standardised, structured electronic invoices that are interoperable across sectors and borders and can be processed automatically) is helping public administrations and businesses all over Europe process invoices more efficiently for cost savings and easier cross-border trade.

However, sending and receiving business partners still face obstacles in their eInvoicing journey. While those receiving eInvoices enjoy most of the gains in efficiency, many are hesitant to put in the necessary time, money and work to implement a solution that will enable them to accept eInvoices. This is because they need to receive a certain amount of eInvoices for this to become cost-effective, and not all of their senders have adopted eInvoicing yet. Consequently, some sending parties are also hesitant because it is costly to adapt their invoices to different customers depending on whether or not they have the technical capability to process structured, electronic invoices in XML format.

The Hermes project is giving new incentive to both sides by making it possible for senders (i.e. sellers) to send exclusively structured, interoperable eInvoices, regardless of the receiving party’s processing ability. If the receiver cannot, Hermes sends both a PDF translation to the recipient, along with information on solution providers that can help them adopt eInvoicing. NB: the structured, XML invoice is available through a Portal, which also tracks the delivery of the document from the sender to the receiver.

By allowing sending parties to send structured eInvoices only, the Hermes project is removing a key bottleneck in the adoption of eInvoicing. Sending parties no longer have to worry about tailoring the invoices they send based on the processing capabilities of their clients' systems. In turn, the greater number of sellers sending eInvoices will give buyers greater economic incentive to get started on their eInvoicing journey so they can receive fully interoperable, machine-readable eInvoices.

The CEF eInvoicing Building Block helps you send and receive structured, electronic invoices that are interoperable across sectors and borders, in line with the European standard on eInvoicing.

How does eDelivery help?

The essential function of the Hermes system is its ability to know whether a recipient can receive an eInvoice or needs a PDF. 

Using the CEF eDelivery Building Block, an open, reusable, standards-based solution for sending documents and data via a secure communication channel, the Belgian government and the CEF eDelivery team worked in close collaboration to upload the records of almost 1.8 million Belgian economic operators in the subdomain associated with the PEPPOL eDelivery network of the CEF eDelivery Service Metadata Locator (SML) Service.

Until now, this network connected sending parties with all clients who could process structured invoices (currently around 25,000 receivers in Belgium). With Hermes acting as the middleman, and the addition of 1.8 million records present in the CEF eDelivery SML Service, all these senders are now connected to all economic operators in Belgium regardless of their eInvoicing maturity, making sure the invoice reaches its recipient in the correct format.

Loading 1.8 million records simultaneously into Hermes and the SML was a major achievement, requiring technical expertise, a balance of structure and flexibility and the close collaboration of Belgian authorities and the CEF eDelivery team. With the security eDelivery offers, as well as scalability to accommodate any number of participants or messages in a network, this solution was the perfect choice for such a mammoth task.

For more information about Hermes, read the article on the e-Invoicing.belgium.be website

CEF eArchiving in Action event a great success

The CEF eArchiving team is pleased to announce that their three-day event, eArchiving in Action, was a great success, with an outstanding grand total of 442 registrants, and an average of 200 participants per day.

This event was an opportunity for various professionals to learn how they and their organisations can benefit from the CEF eArchiving Building Block. eArchiving facilitates the secure preservation of data over the long-term for future reuse, in line with European standards, ensuring interoperability so your data can be migrated across different generations of systems.

The event kicked off with a general introduction to eArchiving, followed by a different workshop each day tailored to different players in the data preservation value chain:

  • Data producers: anyone with information that needs to be preserved or reused;
  • Archives and preservation: Organisations responsible for digital archiving activities;
  • Solution providers: software and service providers for the digital preservation of data.


On day one of the event, representatives from the Norwegian Health Archives gave a presentation on how CEF eArchiving helped them build a system for preserving various kinds of digital data, from patient records originally created electronically to those converted to a digital format.

The second day focused on busting common myths. As one expert said, 'even if some people say it is, making digital copies and storing them is not archiving'. Preserving digital data for future reuse, while the technology around us constantly evolves and improves, is a difficult challenge - 'doing nothing simply is not an option'. Thanks in part to its international standards and open specifications for digital archiving, the eArchiving Building Block is helping numerous organisations overcome this challenge, ensuring their data remains trustworthy and reusable over the long-term, across different generations of systems.

Day three welcomed two finalists, including the winner, of the Digital Innovation Challenge, a competition inviting European SMEs to come up with innovative new services using the CEF Building Blocks. They presented their new services and exactly how the Building Blocks, especially eArchiving, are helping deliver them. The winners, CleverBooks, designed a virtual education platform leveraging augmented reality technology. eArchiving will allow the platform to store the results and educational progress of users over time.

The eArchiving team also announced that an eArchiving Building Block conformance stamp will be made available to certify archiving solutions that have implemented eArchiving-conformant specifications.

Data anonymisation is a key concern

Some participants were concerned about the anonymisation of data in eArchiving. This is addressed in the Data Governance Act - take a look! 

If you have any other questions about eArchiving, you can visit the service desk.

'There is no one-size-fits-all solution, that's why interoperability is key.'

The third day’s final discussion ended by reflecting on the real added value brought by eArchiving – that is, the importance of universal, open standards for the digital preservation and reuse of information, making collaboration between organisations across the information lifecycle significantly easier. 

The problems of long-term preservation and reuse of data cannot be solved by simply 'throwing more computing power' at archiving solutions. eArchiving's open standards, which guarantee interoperability across sectors, borders and generations of different systems, as well as reusable, modular components making it easy to scale up or adapt solutions, are helping numerous organisations collaborate in a cost-effective, sustainable approach to the digital preservation and reuse of data.


man in a suit using a mobile phone with graphics and buildings in the background

Based in Sarajevo and Ljubljana, Comtrade Digital Services has been developing digital solutions for the banking industry for the past 20 years. 

As part of Comtrade Group, Comtrade Digital has successfully delivered and implemented hundreds of solutions and integration projects in online portals, online stores/webshops, SMS/MMS messaging, and many more. Along the way, they have learned to put their expertise to work at the service of financial institutions' needs.

For its latest project, Comtrade Digital was required to implement advanced digital signatures on XML and PDF documents, which contain user payment data and other sensitive information.

After getting acquainted with the current technical specifications, they realised it was best to use some of the ready-to-use digital signature libraries already available in the market to create the aforementioned digital signatures. The architecture of their system is service-oriented, capable of using a library prepared for any platform, provided they can conveniently connect it to the rest of their services.

Following a series of tests, Comtrade decided to go with the CEF eSignature DSS components' advanced digital signatures.

"We were confident adopting DSS (Digital Signatures Services) because it comes with a very strong set of rules and legislation backed by the EU, which everyone in the industry follows", said Mirzah Hozanovic, Comtrade's Fintech Program Manager. "That gave us the confidence to adopt it as a solution." 

CEF eSignature

eSignature is a CEF Building Block offering free standards, tools, and services that help public administrations and businesses accelerate the creation and verification of electronic signatures.

The electronic signatures created with eSignature are legally valid in all European Member States. By removing the need for a paper to obtain a signature or seal, eSignature facilitates the digitalisation of business processes, eliminating the time, costs, and risks of dealing with paper formats. It is also compliant with the eIDAS Regulation, meaning that it ensures the legal recognition and cross-border interoperability of electronic signatures and seals.

Sign securely across borders

The main component of CEF eSignature is the open-source library for Digital Signature Services (DSS). In essence, the DSS is a collection of standards, called baseline profiles, which specify how electronic signatures can be created and validated anywhere in Europe.

CEF eSignature also provides open-source sample software, demos, and support services to make it swift and easy for anyone to adopt electronic signatures that work across country borders. That interoperability eases the learning curve and implementation processes for European SMEs looking for digital signature solutions. 

The DSS is a ready-to-use solution, which shortened the analysis, implementation, and testing phase for Comtrade Digital. 

Ramiz Mimic, Comtrade Fintech's Solution Architect, thinks digital tools such as CEF eSignature are necessary for businesses who don't have the staffing or knowledge to develop such processes independently. "We are a fintech company of 100 employees, and this type of digital solution is not our field of expertise," he said.  "I would compare these types of digital solutions to services like electricity or some other type of basic infrastructure.  Nowadays, digital signing services need to have strong legislation, and I think it's best if the EU takes the lead."

How can CEF help you?

At the Connecting Europe Facility, we give you access to free tools, support, and funding to help you build your digital services. Here are some of the other Building Blocks you might be interested in. 

                        Supports EU-wide cross-border public services using blockchain technology 


                            Facilitates the preservation, migration, reuse, and trust of your information 


                      Exchanges data and documents securely and reliably. 


CEF eTranslation tool among the best in the field

©Adobe Stock

At the close of the Fifth Conference on Machine Translation (WMT20) on 19 and 20 November 2020, the Connecting Europe Facility's (CEF) machine translation tool, eTranslation, proved itself to be among the very best in the world of machine translation and computational linguistics.

This annual conference gathers the biggest players in the industry, who then complete a set of common translation tasks (such as building translation engines specifically for the news sector), sharing how they completed them and comparing the results. It is a great opportunity for the CEF eTranslation team to benchmark their achievements and capabilities against others at the cutting edge of machine translation technology. In this spirit of healthy competition, participants not only get to find out their relative standing in the field, but also to share their knowledge, experience and best practices with others. 

eTranslation highlights

The CEF eTranslation team completed the task of building translation engines specifically for the news sector across five languages. They translated from English to the only three EU languages available at this year's Conference, Czech, German and Polish, and also translated from Japanese and Russian into English. These two important world languages are just the start of eTranslation's commitment to expand its portfolio beyond its core of official EU languages, which already includes Mandarin and Turkish.

Translations were ranked both automatically (by BLEU score) and by human judges. BLEU showed a range of translation quality, with eTranslation always in the top tier. When the human eye came into play, eTranslation again fared well, and was typically in the top-ranked "cluster" (grouping of engines only separated by expected margins of error).

Notably, eTranslation ranked 2nd for translations into Polish, outperforming all four other publicly available online translation systems participating. 

The conference also requires comparisons with human translations to see how much machine translation is closing the gap. While human translation remains the gold standard, for Russian to English translation, eTranslation was one of four engines that gave better results than the human translation used for the comparison

WMT20 also tests for the "robustness" of MT systems: how well can they translate texts with a different style and/or content than those they were built for. Again, eTranslation placed well, coming third out of nine for English to German, and in the second of three "clusters" for Japanese to English.

The future of translation

The results of this conference clearly show that the quality of eTranslation's machine translation engines is more or less on a par with the very best in the field. While parity with human translations has not been reached, the steady improvement in the field means that machine translation is having an ever greater impact in the field of translation, both as a tool for human translators and as an alternative where certified accuracy and perfect style are not required.

The eTranslation team will be closely examining the choices made by other participants in their engines for useful tips and tricks to maintain their current success and stay at the forefront of machine translation technology. 

The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) eTranslation Building Block 

CEF eTranslation provides a high-quality machine translation service, covering all 24 official EU languages and more, such as Russian, Mandarin and Turkish!

You can use eTranslation as a stand-alone translation service (for government officials in public administrations in the EU) or integrated into any public sector website, from local administrations to pan-EU projects.

Explore the upgraded CEF Building Block dashboards 

Since 2014, our monitoring dashboards have been providing valuable information about the performance of the different CEF Building Blocks.

Based on used feedback, we have been making regular updates to our dashboardsWe are therefore glad to announce that the CEF Building Block Dashboards have been upgraded with an improved user experience.

Thanks to the latest updates, users will now have a more seamless experience, and be able to retrieve relevant information more quickly. 

The updates

The highlights section has been made more concise, better structured and more visually appealing.

When comparing the former layout of the highlights section (Figure 1) to the newer (Figure 2) for the eID Building Block, one can quickly observe that:

  • The text has been made more concise;
  • Highlights are now horizontally structured, improving readability;
  • Short titles now indicate more clearly what each highlight is about;
  • External links are now represented by interactive yellow buttons. 

Figure 1: former layout of the highlight section of the eID Dashboard.

 Figure 2: new layout of the highlight section of the eID Dashboard

The indicator section has also been made more intuitive, readable and better structured, with the following new features:

  • “Learn more” buttons now clearly indicate to the user for which indicators they can access a more detailed breakdown according to certain criteria (e.g. time, sectors, ...);
  • The disclaimer indicating when the data was last updated has been moved from the bottom of the dashboard to the top of the indicator section for more transparency;
  • The colour scheme has been revised.

Figure 3: former layout of the indicator section of the eID Dashboard.

Figure 4: new layout of the indicator section of the eID Dashboard.

eInvoicing Code Lists: 19 February 2021 deadline for change requests

Those who wish to have new codes added to the next version of the VATEX and/or EAS code lists, are kindly invited to submit requests for changes by 19 February 2021.

Subsequent requests will be included in the next release to be published on March 5th and effective on May 17th. See the regular release schedule for details.

The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) eInvoicing Building Block serves as the managing authority for these two code lists in the European standard on eInvoicing (EN 16931). To submit Requests for Change visit the dedicated Code Lists page on the CEF Digital website or directly via the through the Service Desk.

CEF Digital provides a Registry of supporting technical resources (validation artefacts, code lists, etc.) to implement the European standard on eInvoicing. You can receive email notifications for each update to the items included in the registry (such as these code lists) directly on the dedicated page in the CEF eInvoicing User Community (simply follow the instructions at the bottom of the page).

CEF eInvoicing

The European Commission supports public administrations comply with Directive 2014/55/EU on electronic invoicing in public procurement with the CEF eInvoicing Building Block.

The Directive mandated the creation of a European standard on eInvoicing. The European standard makes it possible for sellers to send invoices to many customers by using a single eInvoicing format. This means they do not have to adjust their sending and/or receiving to connect with individual trading parties.

CEF eInvoicing makes the following services available:

Update to eInvoicing validation artefacts


The European Commission is happy to announce a dedicated technical update to the validation artefacts provided as part of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) eInvoicing Building Block. 

This “hotfix” release (version 1.3.4) makes available corrections to the previous 1.3.3 version for the UBL 2.1 syntax by updating three business rules (BR-CO-16, BR-CO-19 and UBL-SR-43) and is implementable immediately where applicable. You can find details about the corrections in the release notes.

The next update of the CEF-managed code lists and validation artefacts is foreseen for Spring 2021 as per its regular scheduled release.

The Commission provides a Registry of supporting technical resources (validation artefacts, code lists, etc.) to implement the European standard on eInvoicing. You can receive email notifications for each update to the items included in the registry (such as these code lists) directly on the dedicated page in the CEF eInvoicing User Community (simply follow the instructions at the bottom of the page).

CEF eInvoicing

The European Commission helps public administrations comply with Directive 2014/55/EU on electronic invoicing in public procurement with the CEF eInvoicing Building Block.

How CEF funding is driving digital transformation in Europe

The Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) has published a brochure presenting the European Commission's projects to connect Europe through trans-European digital networks, funded by the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).

CEF funds projects in the areas of transport, energy and telecoms. Under the umbrella of CEF Telecoms, CEF has provided over €1 billion of funding to digitally connect Europe through Digital Service Infrastructures (DSIs). DSIs come in the form of both sector-specific, standards-based IT solutions that provide better cross-border online services for EU citizens (such as eHealth and eJustice) and basic digital components that can be reused, alone or in combination, in any European digital project - these are called Building Blocks.

Over €700 million has been used to deploy these DSIs at European level. To develop and interconnect national-level IT infrastructure, INEA has awarded over €308 million in CEF grant funding to 571 projects throughout Europe, and over 240 projects are already completed. 

The Building Blocks

The Building Blocks are open digital solutions that provide fundamental capabilities forming the foundation of any digital service. Their international standards ensure interoperability across sectors and borders, contributing to an ecosystem of interconnected digital services and helping realise the Digital Single Market. In practice, this means faster and more efficient public and cross-border services for citizens, business and public administrations all over Europe. 

In total, CEF has provided over €80 million of funding for the eInvoicing, eID, eSignature, eTranslation and eDelivery Building Blocks. For a more in-depth view of Building Block uptake at the end of 2020, see this article. 

eInvoicing - 29.9 of funding

The eInvoicing Building Block helps Member States' public administrations comply with the European standard on electronic invoicing. They can then benefit from faster payment times, reduced operational costs and more seamless cross-border trade. 

For example, one CEF-funded project helped Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to update their existing electronic invoicing solutions to comply with the European standard, and integrated these to interconnect customers in Baltic states, boosting cross-border trade.  

eIdentification and eSignature - 24.7 of funding

The eID and eSignature Building Blocks are underpinned by Regulation (EU) N°910/2014 (the eIDAS Regulation), which provides for the mutual recognition of eID schemes and interoperability of eSignatures across Europe. This helps public administrations and private businesses easily extend their services to citizens from other Member States by connecting different national eID schemes through the eIDAS network.

CEF funding has helped 22 Member States set up and operate eIDAS nodes. CEF grants have also improved student mobility in Europe through solutions allowing students to identity themselves across borders (this is now the EU Student eCard DSI). 

eTranslation - 21.5 of funding

The eTranslation Building Block is a state-of-the-art machine translation tool that operates in all 24 official EU languages and more, including Mandarin, Russian and Turkish. It can be used as an online tool to translate text snippets and documents, or integrated into a digital service to make it automatically multilingual. 

CEF funding has focused on both integrating this tool into cross-border digital services to make them accessible to as many citizens as possible, and on gathering language resources to improve the accuracy of the tool. This includes language resources to improve the translation of texts on specific subjects like tender documents, legal text or documents concerning the COVID-19 health crisis. 

eDelivery - €4.5 of funding

The eDelivery Building Block lets public administrations and businesses send and receive documents across sectors and borders via a secure communication channel. The open, international specifications that eDelivery is based on mean that IT systems that have developed separately can still seamlessly communicate if they are connected to an eDelivery node.

A CEF-funded action has helped create a data exchange infrastructure for the EU steel industry using eDelivery Access Points, helping reduce costs for actors throughout the value chain of the EU steel industry. Find out more by reading the success story