EU and OpenPEPPOL announce new CEF funding agreement to transition from AS2 to AS4

September 19, 2016  |  Digitalisation, Europe

In order to foster the development of a Digital Single Market within the European Union, CEF Digital, a programme under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), funds and promotes the uptake of re-usable digital public services throughout Europe.

This work has been facilitated and enabled by a large number of partnerships, through cooperation both within the European Commission and with external partners and through a number of pilot projects. The European Commission and OpenPEPPOL are happy to announce a new agreement in this regard.

OpenPEPPOL AISBL was established after successful completion of the Pan-European Public Procurement Online (PEPPOL) project, which saw PEPPOL specifications being implemented in several European countries solving interoperability issues for electronic procurement. Within the framework of CEF Digital, the European Commission in 2015 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with OpenPEPPOL supporting trans-European interoperability. The purpose of the MoU was to set out the understanding and intentions of the parties with regard to collaboration on CEF eDelivery. This includes the PEPPOL Access Point (AP), Service Metadata Publisher (SMP) and Service Metadata Locator (SML) specifications and software, as well as SML operations, aiming to continue operations within the PEPPOL eDelivery network and enable a large-scale, autonomous operation of transactional public services.

Currently, the PEPPOL profile of CEF eDelivery uses the AS2 message exchange protocol, whereas the e-SENS profile of CEF eDelivery uses the AS4 messaging protocol. In the eDelivery roadmap, the Commission has adopted the e-SENS profile as the target architecture for CEF eDelivery. In a Letter of Understanding (LoU) signed between the Commission and OpenPEPPOL, the parties agree a plan for the transition from AS2 to AS4 in the PEPPOL profile of CEF eDelivery. As part of this, support for SMP/SML lookup and PKI specifications as used in the PEPPOL eDelivery network will continue in the CEF eDelivery architecture.

To support a successful transition from AS2 to AS4 as much as possible, the Core Service Platform of CEF eDelivery, will provide interoperability testing and end-to-end testing services also on AS2. In addition, a dedicated support team will be available to help.  The parties also agreed not to make any choices that prevent evolution and innovation, and that migration to a new technology must not disrupt existing production systems.

To ensure that market adoption is monitored, the parties agree that a well-defined, step-by-step, transition process is needed to minimise the risks associated with introducing new technology in existing production systems. To ensure the best possible experience for PEPPOL eDelivery users, and the wider current and prospective stakeholder community, the agreement will maintain usage of the current and well-functioning technology until a given set of criteria, including proven operations with the new protocol in the PEPPOL eDelivery production environment, has been demonstrated.

The transition is planned to follow three main phases, where AS4 will become mandatory in the PEPPOL profile of CEF eDelivery from Q2 2019, provided that each phase is successfully completed.

The parties have agreed on a list of conditions that need to be proven and tested to ensure a safe migration and will take steps to stimulate a market take-up of this migration plan.

More information on the continued evolution of CEF eDelivery visit the CEF Digital website, the full text of the agreement is available for downoload here. Uptake of CEF eDelivery can be monitored via the CEF Digital Dashboard.

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