European e-Invoicing

Directive 2014/55/EU enters into force in Europe

Minister Patrick O’Donovan at Procurex Ireland event in Dublin on 4 April.

2019 and 2020 are bringing some major changes concerning e-invoicing in Europe since the Directive 2014/55/EU which regulates e-invoicing in Public procurement enters into force. One of its main purposes is to reduce the obstacles in cross-border trade that arise from the coexistence of different national legal requirements and technical standards in e-invoicing. Following the Directive, all European public entities must be able to receive and process electronic invoices in accordance with the European Standard on e-invoicing (EN-16931). Central government bodies must comply with this obligation as of April 18, 2019 and all the remaining public entities must be ready by April 18, 2020. Each EU Member State must draft its own transposition of the law to adapt the e-Invoicing model into their national legislative framework. 

Ireland’s approach on e-invoicing with Public sector bodies

As a EU Member State, Ireland is no exception to the rule and it also has to transpose the European Directive on e-invoicing in public procurement into its national law. The transposition of the Directive is expected to be completed any time soon. It will not exceed the scope of the Directive, meaning that:

  • All Irish public bodies will have to be able to receive and process electronic invoices (e-invoices) in accordance with the European Standard on e-invoicing EN-16931;
  • The deadlines to comply are April 18, 2019 for central government and April 18, 2020 for all remaining public entities;
  • The European Directive applies to invoices which relate to contracts above EU procurement thresholds;
  • Suppliers in Ireland are not being mandated to send e-invoices under the European Directive at this point in time;

The Office of Government Procurement (OGP) is responsible for guiding public bodies in becoming compliant with the EU Directive.  OGP has established an eInvoicing Ireland programme which operates to promote the national e-invoicing approach and to support public bodies of Ireland in making the necessary provisions to comply with the European Directive. Ireland has chosen PEPPOL as the eDelivery network for the transmission of e-invoices. On January 18, 2018 Ireland announced its membership in OpenPEPPOL Community as a PEPPOL Authority.

PEPPOL (Pan-European Public Procurement Online) was established and developed in the context of Public procurement strategy within European Public administrations in order to secure interoperability amongst the states. The PEPPOL infrastructure, built on PEPPOL Access Points, represents a series of specifications designed to facilitate public procurement between businesses and administrations regardless of where in the European Union they are based or which systems they use. In short, it is a common and interoperable standard and a key factor in rolling out cross-border e-Procurement. The standard message adopted by PEPPOL network is PEPPOL UBL (Universal Business Language), a variant of XML.

Ireland is by no means the only country adopting PEPPOL- an increasing number of European countries (e.g. Sweden, Norway and Croatia) have taken measures towards adopting PEPPOL standards and implementing them in their infrastructure. Adoption of PEPPOL is on the rise since it has proved its effectiveness in electronic communications, and it fosters the harmonization of communications between countries.

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