EU Public Administrations

Guidance Paper for Public Administrations – The adoption of e-invoicing in public procurement

Under European Directive 2014/55/EU, public contracting authorities engaged in public procurement will be obliged to support e-invoicing by 2019, or up to 12 months later for smaller authorities based on the adoption of a new e-invoice standard.

The Commission requested that CEN- the European standards organisation through CEN/TC 434- draft a European standard for the semantic data model of the core elements of an electronic invoice.

A ‘semantic data model’ means a structured and logically interrelated set of terms and their meanings that specify the core elements of an electronic invoice.

The Directive does not itself create a mandatory requirement for the parties, contracting authorities and their suppliers, to move to e-invoicing exclusively based on the European standard. Member States may retain e-invoicing based on existing national standards and indeed are not forced to move away from traditional invoicing.

But the arrival of a European standard creates an opportunity for wide harmonization and a concerted process of adoption across national public sectors and the EU as a whole.

There are various ways in which the public sector at national level may wish to implement or further expand the usage of electronic invoicing e.g.:

  • Build on already achieved successes in e-invoicing adoption
  • Establish a national strategy and policy framework whether centralised or decentralised
  • Consider a mandating process to make e-invoicing compulsory to achieve the necessary scale
  • Investigate the use of shared services and integration with the whole e-procurement chain.
  • Aim high for maximal automation rather than just minimum compliance

‘The benefits of electronic invoicing are maximised when the generation, sending, transmission, reception and processing of an invoice can be fully automated. For this reason, only machine-readable invoices which can be processed automatically and digitally by the recipient should be considered to be compliant with the European standard on electronic invoicing. A mere image file should not be considered to be an electronic invoice for the purpose of this Directive’ – Reference  Directive 2014/55/EU


Scope of the Directive 2014/55/EU
Key features of the new CEN e-invoice standard EN 16931
A note on visual presentations