How is the EU e-invoicing forum getting along? Have you noticed anything yet? [UPDATE]

June 7, 2012  |  Adoption, Europe, Government

It is been almost a year from now since the birth of the EU E-invoicing Forum. And as its first birthday is coming nearer and nearer, we asked ourselves how the Forum is getting along and what it has achieved so far. Well, the E-invoicing Platform is not a member of the EU E-invoicing Forum. So we can’t provide you with first hand information. However, we did receive rumours and information that some of the stakeholders are a bit disappointed about the achievements of the forum so far.

Minutes of the second EU E-invoicing Forum meeting

We don’t want and need to disclose rumours or sources, as we want to remain a viable source of information. Thankfully, we have the Minutes of the second meeting of the European Multi-Stakeholder Forum on Electronic Invoicing. Underneath are some highlights from the minutes that underline that things have not accelerated yet to the level some had wished for:

From the chair

  • The chair noted that 6 months had passed since the first meeting
  • The chair stressed that the focus of the second meeting was to take stock of interim results and to help accelerate the work.
  • It remains the objective to complete four activity reports with tangible conclusions in time for the third meeting of the EU Forum taking place later this year.

Activity 1: Monitoring the e-invoicing uptake in Member States and at EU Level

  • Different and incomplete data available: country-specific data are not comparable with EU-wide data.
  • Data too much focused on the use of e-invoicing, not on the real number of e-invoices.
  • It would be easier to process and analyse data collected in a centralised way, ideally via Eurostat, rather than aggregating data available from national data and/or to ask an external party to run a yearly survey.

Activity 2: Exchange of experiences and good practices

  • There were only 47 responses to the quantitative survey and only five responses to the qualitative survey.
  • Moreover, there is still a need to address banks’ contribution, and to get first-hand service provider input.

Activity 3: Propose appropriate solutions for remaining cross-border barriers

Only a short survey was distributed on (1) regulatory obstacles for e-invoicing beyond VAT acceptance and (2) the transposition of the new VAT directive. This led to feedback from 17 fora. Things are looking sound there.

Activity 4: Migration towards a single e-invoice standard data model

Only after a year in existence, this activity group asked the following existential question (notice the “touchy” tone of voice here…):

“In order to better focus the analyses that will be made, the group pointed out that the Commission should clarify what is intended by the sentence “The Commission wants to see e-invoicing become the predominant method of invoicing by 2020 in Europe.”

[UPDATE 12/6/2012] Peter Potgieser, Activitiy 4 leader, contacted us and said: “In is my opinion it was not the first time the question was raised, this is just the first time the question was written down”.  Be that as it may, the minutes are the only way the outside world gets acquainted with the work of the EU E-invoicing Forum. Perhaps as the Activity 4 leader, Peter Potgieser might want to ask the minutes to be changed on this point.

Conclusions and identified actions

  • When summarising the results of the activity groups the chair re-iterated that most of the actual work on the identified actions will need to take place outside the half-yearly meeting of the European Forum.
  • For that purpose, activity groups should hold regular phone conferences if possible and national fora should directly contribute to the deliverables of the four activity groups.

Time for the a different approach?

To be honest, just like some of the stakeholders we are a bit disappointed too. Is the EU E-invoicing Forum merely a gentlemen’s club or are they ready for a more hands-on approach? Perhaps time is just too short to come up with conclusions already. But we can’t help but wonder whether the following approaches are more viable options towards massive EU E-invoicing adoption. - The Latin American approach - The E-procurement approach

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