European Commission – CEF Open session on the future of e-Invoicing on 9 June 2020

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European Commission – CEF Open session on the future of e-Invoicing on 9 June 2020

Opening remarks by Charles Bryant, Secretary General EESPA.

There were 3 topics Including standards and SMEs.  Charles was invited to make some opening remarks on the question of Transport and Interoperability.

‘ Let’s start with the two important words Transport and Interoperability.

For transport or transmission, there are two common methods 1/ Email for simple invoices like pdf images often used by smaller businesses dealing with each other and 2/ Networks and service platforms for structured invoices like the European Norm destined for larger buyers like public authorities for reasons of control, security, scale and complexity. I will focus on the second category.

Second word: Interoperability  which is crucial for e-invoicing  using structured standards like the European Norm. Interoperability is the ability of buyers and sellers of all types – large and small – to interact with each other irrespective of the internal systems they use. This is the key requirement of end-user trading parties.

To make this happen their service and solution platforms including those provided by public authorities need to have arrangements for the secure and robust of exchange of documents such as orders and invoices along the supply chain. This often takes place within a single platform,  but increasingly on a cross-platform basis.

Such cross-platform interoperability arrangements are based on the use of networks and rules frameworks, such as my own association’s model interoperability agreements (we represent over 80 European service providers), PEPPOL (extensive network with strong links to public procurement), and various national infrastructures.  All these have developed to meet specific needs and business cultures. They also include new infrastructures promoted by authorities looking to control tax collections on a continuous basis, and which involve the capture of e- invoices or invoice information in varying ways and which are increasingly making e-invoicing compulsory.

For interoperability whilst things are not perfect, practices have matured and we are now at a real moment of opportunity. For example a group of associations including EESPA and OpenPEPPOL and two US based organisations have recently created a Global Interoperability Framework (GIF) to be published for consultation this month……in a matter of days.

The GIF recognises it is unlikely that a single global or EU-wide solution will develop quickly,  but what could help would be a definition of common building blocks that could be used in any such frameworks. That’s what we have defined for the 4 dimensions of delivery, discovery, data and the surrounding directives (or governance) rules. This will allow service provider networks and platforms to exchange transactions more predictably in an automated way, globally.

It is based on EU artefacts such as CEF e-Delivery, the European Norm expressed in UBL, and worldwide best practices for governance and data processing. EU really is a leader in this digital space !

With the GIF we can avoid making unrealistic claims imposing one particular framework or another,  but rather  agree on some well accepted building blocks that we all use and which, of course, can evolve over time.

We are very  happy to participate in this session, answer any questions and help to improve and develop our thinking’.