EU takes three pronged approach to encourage e-invoicing
The European Commission last week announced that it will be taking a three-pronged approach to encourage e-invoicing in the European Union. The overall idea behind the proposals is to help grow the IT industry as part of the Single Market Act.
The Commission’s plan is to:
- Ensure better coordination of infrastructure works required for the roll out of high-speed internet;
- Harmonize online payments throughout the European Union; and
- Require all public procurement projects to use e-invoicing.
Although some Member States already have plans to coordinate such work, the Commission says these are scarce and scattered. In France, private companies such as Orange-France Telecom took the initiative themselves to share access to ducts and in-building cabling.
However, the insufficient harmonisation, ineffective competition in some areas of Internet payments, and lack of incentives for technical standardization have meant the majority of companies have been slow on the up-take of such projects.
By combining practical action with the introduction of new legislation therefore, the Commission hopes to tackle this situation. It has proposed a revision of the Payment Services Directive, and wants to see the non-discrimination clause of the Services Directive fully implemented. This bans service providers from differentiating between customers on the basis of nationality or place of residence.
Finally, the Commission said that making electronic invoicing the standard mode for public procurement will make the public sector a 'lead market' for e-invoicing and spearhead its wider use in the economy.