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End-to-end e-procurement: e-invoicing

19/12/2013
Following the European Commission's launch back in October 2012 of a consultation on e-invoicing in public procurement, the European Commission put forward (in June 2013) a proposal to further the Following the European Commission's launch back in October 2012 of a consultation on e-invoicing in public procurement, the European Commission put forward (in June 2013) a proposal to further the EU's steps towards "end-to-end e-procurement" (part of the Digital Agenda for Europe to make the entire procurement process, from publication of tender notices through to payment of suppliers, electronic) with the introduction of a draft e-invoicing directive

The directives aim is simple - to "eliminate legal uncertainty, excessive complexity, and additional operating costs" for suppliers who have to use different electronic invoices across Member States.  It proposes a two-stage approach to achieve this:

  • establishing a European e-invoicing standard which would standardise the information that needed to be contained in an e-invoice to enable cross-border interoperability.   This "semantic data model" (as it is referred to in the draft directive) would not only be technologically neutral, but would also guarantee the protection of personal data contained within the e-invoice; and

  • mandating that contracting authorities in Member States accept e-invoices which comply with that new e-invoicing standard.


At a meeting on 2 December 2013, the Competitiveness Council agreed a general approach on e-invoicing and the European Parliament will now try to reach an agreement on it. Under the general approach (amongst other things):

  • compliant e-invoices must be accepted by contracting authorities;

  • there is guidance on how the e-invoicing standard is to be developed and what existing specifications should be used/taken into account;

  • to avoid excessive costs and burden for contracting authorities, the European standardisation organisation should identify a list with a limited number of syntaxes (not comprising the European standard) which must not only comply with the e-invoicing standard but also already be widely and successfully used by contracting authorities and suppliers;

  • the European Commission and Member States must make every effort to minimise the costs of e-invoicing on its users, including SMEs;

  • there will be a time period of no more than 3 years for the e-invoicing standard and the list of syntaxes to be delivered to the European Commission for its approval;

  • the following time periods are proposed following the publication of the e-invoicing standard and the list of syntaxes in the OJEU: 30 months for Member States to implement the directive; and as contracting authorities will need time to prepare and take the necessary measures to comply with the directive, there will be a 30-month transposition period (36 months for certain contracting authorities e.g., local and regional contracting authorities); and

  • there will be a review by the European Commission on the effect of the directive and the uptake of e-invoicing by 30 June 2023.


We will keep you updated on developments under the Digital Agenda for Europe.  But in the meantime, if you have any queries on end-to-end e-procurement please contact me.

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