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16 April 2014 | Paul Snell
The Council of the European Union has approved a directive to create a common standard for electronic invoicing in public procurement.
MEPs voted in favour of the creation of the standard at the start of February, following its endorsement by member states in January, and this has now been ratified by the Council.
A single standard is being introduced to remove compatibility problems between systems. It is claimed a move to e-invoicing could save €2.3 billion (£1.9 billion) annually across the EU, but current use is low, at between 4 to 15 per cent of total invoices.
“In only four months we managed to reach an agreement on the directive on e-invoicing in public procurement. Key points for us - to guarantee the establishment of an effective, user-friendly and affordable standard and to give member states enough time for implementation”, said the rapporteur and German Christian Democratic Union MEP Birgit Collin-Langen at the time.
The European standardization organsations - CEN, Cenelec and ETSI - will develop the standard. Once published, central government will have 18 months to implement it, and local and regional contracting authorities will have 30 months.
All public sector buyers will be required to carry out their procurement electronically by 2016.