The European Commission welcomes an important step towards the interoperability of electronic document delivery within the European Union. Work has been completed so that services provided for electronic procurement will be able to use the very same technologies underpinned by the European Commission Digital Service Infrastructure for electronic delivery. These technologies support secure and reliable exchange of documents and data.

Before, OpenPEPPOL, the highly successful association implementing a pan-European, standards-based IT infrastructure for eProcurement that connects national eProcurement systems, for historical reasons, had been using different standards than those adopted as the target architecture promoted as the Building Block for eDelifery under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programme of the European Commission.

Now, the Norwegian Agency for Public Management and eGovernment (Difi), has implemented the latest version of the so called “PEPPOL AS4 profile”, which is in line with the generic eDelivery AS4 profile, already deployed in multiple European projects. At the same time “Oxalis”, a popular open source software, that can be used to set up an access point in the PEPPOL network, now offers AS4 support. Existing Oxalis users can effortlessly update their access point to provide parallel AS2 and AS4 support. OpenPeppol will now closely monitor the uptake of the technology in the network, to decide when to make openPeppol mandatory.

These milestones are great news for the ongoing AS2 to AS4 migration in the PEPPOL eDelivery network, that OpenPEPPOL and the Commision’s CEF eDelivery Team had set out in a Letter of Understanding two years ago.

It is just one example of the Commision’s efforts to promote interoperability as contribution to an “infrastructure of trust” fostering the development of a Digital Single Market within the European Union.

Background

CEF Digital, a programme under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), funds and promotes the uptake of re-usable digital public services throughout Europe. This work has been facilitated and enabled by a large number of partnerships, through cooperation both within the European Commission and with external partners and through a number of pilot projects.

OpenPEPPOL AISBL was established after successful completion of the Pan-European Public Procurement Online (PEPPOL) project, which saw PEPPOL specifications being implemented in several European countries solving interoperability issues for electronic procurement. The PEPPOL project remains one of the key Connecting Europe Success Stories, the benefits of which continue to be built-upon. Currently, more than 160 certified Access Points are connected to the PEPPOL eDelivery Network in 20 European countries and North America. The PEPPOL eDelivery Network is today mostly used for electronic invoicing, and plays an important role for the implementation of Directive 2014/55/EU on e-invoicing in public procurement in many countries today.

Until now, the PEPPOL network required the use of the AS2 message exchange protocol, whereas CEF eDelivery promotes the AS4 messaging protocol. In the eDelivery roadmap, the Commission has adopted the e-SENS profile as for CEF eDelivery. In a Letter of Understanding (LoU) signed between the Commission and OpenPEPPOL on the 19th September 2016,, the parties agreed a plan for the transition from AS2 to AS4 in the PEPPOL profile of CEF eDelivery. The parties also agreed not to make any choices that prevent evolution and innovation, and that migration to a new technology must not disrupt existing production systems.

A defined, step-by-step, transition process was developed to minimise the risks associated with introducing new technology in the existing production systems. The transition is planned to make AS4 mandatory in the PEPPOL profile of CEF eDelivery in 2019.

Under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) the European Commission provided Grant funding to support the transition from AS2 to AS4 (see the Innovation & Networks Executive Agency (INEA) for details). More information on the continued evolution of CEF eDelivery visit the CEF Digital website, the full text of the agreement is available for download here. Uptake of CEF eDelivery can be monitored via the CEF Digital Dashboard.