European Public administrations turn on green light for receiving eInvoices in European Standard. Declan McCormack, eInvoicing Ireland Programme Manager, explains the implications for Ireland and Europe.
European public administrations should now be in a position to receive and process eInvoices in the European Standard since 18 April 2019, in accordance with the European Directive 2014/55/EU (eInvoicing Directive). In Ireland, this deadline applies to Central Government bodies, the majority of whom are reaching compliance through the availability of the Office of Government Procurement’s (OGP) eInvoicing Framework. Irish sub-central Government bodies will need to be able to receive and process eInvoices in accordance with the eInvoicing Directive and the national eInvoicing approach by April 2020. eInvoicing is now at the centre of digital transformation in public procurement across Europe.
eInvoicing national approach in Ireland and the eInvoicing Framework
The national approach to the eInvoicing Directive is a multi-stakeholder approach, supporting the Government’s commitment to the Build-to-Share, Digital and Data strategies, focusing on improved efficiencies and effectiveness. The Irish approach has been to encourage and support the adoption of eInvoicing at shared services and co-ordinating body facilities level, across central and local government, health and education sectors, whilst also supporting independent public bodies, not falling under a shared services facility by the compliance timelines.
eInvoicing Ireland, the programme based in the OGP and tasked with supporting compliance with the eInvoicing Directive in Ireland, has been working with the OGP, to establish a Framework agreement for the provision of PEPPOL networking and eInvoicing systems and services. The Framework has been developed in recognition of the public sector landscape in Ireland aiming to:
- Meet the eInvoicing requirements of the public sector, from shared services and co-ordinating body facilities, to individual public bodies; and
- Cater for those looking to achieve basic compliance as well as those looking for more integrated solutions to realise longer term benefits.
The Framework has therefore been designed with multiple lots, in order to address the differing needs of the respective shared services/co-ordinating body facilities as well as individual public bodies. The lots are as follows:
Lot 1: single supplier lot for the National Shared Service Office (NSSO) Finance Shared Services and Central Government Departments and Agencies.
Lot 2: multi-supplier lot for two shared services and co-ordinating facilities across the Health Service Executive and other Health Authorities, and the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA), Local and Regional Authorities.
Lot 3: multi-supplier lot for all public bodies which don’t fall under Lots 1 and 2.
The OGP and eInvoicing Ireland have developed a range of materials including user manuals as part of the Framework documentation available at www.ogp.gov.ie.
In transposing the eInvoicing Directive into Irish legislation, Ireland is availing of the option for sub-central contracting authorities and contracting entities to postpone the compliance deadline until April 2020. Individual public bodies will need to determine whether the central or sub-central deadline applies to them, in regard to the eInvoicing Directive.
Ireland is not legislating to mandate suppliers to send eInvoices in accordance with the European Standard at this time. The advice from early European adopters of eInvoicing, such as some of the Nordic countries, is to take a gradual approach, to wait until eInvoicing reaches greater maturity across government before mandating suppliers. Ireland is now embarking on the journey of digital transformation, looking to build on the experiences of those early adopters including on-boarding suppliers.
Europe and eInvoicing
The eInvoicing Directive is bringing all Member States under the one European Standard (EN-16931), where previously different countries had been working to a variety of separate national standards. The European Standard, which, at a basic level is a data-model, is available on a free-to-use basis from the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI). The eInvoicing Directive aims to create greater eInvoicing interoperability between businesses and European public administrations. Specifically in relation to the cost efficiencies afforded by eInvoicing, through large scale eInvoice processing, it is estimated that between 2015 – 2017 €920 million in savings was recorded across EU member states through eInvoicing alone.
The PEPPOL eDelivery network for eProcurement documents including eInvoices continues to gain traction across 19 countries in Europe as well as internationally including Canada, Singapore and the recent addition to the PEPPOL community of Australia and New Zealand. As an OpenPEPPOL Authority member Ireland has an important role to play in shaping the future of eProcurement across Europe.
The European Commission and EU Member States are supporting the adoption of the eInvoicing Directive and the European Standard through the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) eInvoicing Building Block which provides a range of supports to Member States, public administrations and the service provider community accessible at ec.europe.eu/cefdigital.
Public bodies need to plan for compliance and to consider the potential wider benefits of eInvoicing. Public bodies should start by understanding the requirements of the eInvoicing Directive and identifying the areas of their organisation that might be impacted by the introduction of eInvoicing such as Accounting and Finance, ICT and Procurement teams. Analysis of the existing invoice processing environment including system capabilities, invoice volumes and supplier profiles should then be undertaken. This knowledge can help to identify the business case for eInvoicing and the preparation of an eInvoicing strategy. eInvoicing should also be considered in terms of the wider end-to-end procure-to-pay lifecycle.
For public bodies who are part of a shared services or co-ordinating body facility, analysis and planning should be undertaken with the project managers from the shared services/co-ordinating body facilities. eInvoicing Ireland has produced a worksheet for public bodies to start considering these different stages and planning for implementation. Public bodies should then download the information from the eInvoicing Framework with a view to drawing down the relevant services.
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