EU countries and the European Commission decided to introduce a European Standard for eInvoicing in response to the many eInvoice formats used across the EU. These varied formats cause unnecessary complexity and high costs for businesses and public entities. While all contracting authorities will have to accept electronic invoices that comply with the European norm, nationally specific rules will remain valid. In other words, the Commission’s initiative will result in a norm and not in a European eInvoicing infrastructure. The latter will be supplied by service providers on the market.
The deadline for EU countries to transpose eInvoicing Directive 2014/55/EU into their national laws and comply with the European standard on e-invoicing was 18 April 2020. Public authorities across the EU should now be able to process eInvoices respecting the European Standard.
eInvoicing situation in EU and EEA countries
Each EU and EEA country has a unique approach to eInvoicing. In the country factsheets, you can learn more about each country's:
- policy framework
- eInvoicing platform (if existing)
- approach for receiving and processing electronic invoices
Connecting Europe Facility eInvoicing Building Block
The European Commission supports eInvoicing through the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) eInvoicing Building Block. CEF eInvoicing currently offers:
- on-site training sessions and workshops for the public and private sectors
- supporting webinars
- a user community for online discussions and technical resources (validation artefacts, code lists, etc.) used to implement eInvoicing when using the European standard and a conformance testing service
Dedicated working environment for eInvoicing stakeholders
This collaborative space enables stakeholders interested in eInvoicing policy and market developments to exchange experiences and best practice on cross-border eInvoicing. It is open for use by the entire eInvoicing user community (all public administrations and private actors dealing with eInvoicing in Europe) to disseminate information, co-create the future and learn from one another.
Benefits and obstacles to eInvoicing
Compared to paper invoices, eInvoices are easier to process, they reach the customer faster and can be stored centrally at very low cost. A report (5 MB) predicts potential annual benefits of up to €40 billion across Europe in the business-to-business field alone.
Some of the main benefits from eInvoicing include:
- faster retrieval of money from customers by reducing the time an invoice or payment is in the post
- reduced printing and postage costs
- quicker and cheaper processing as the information in electronic invoices can be fed directly into a company's payment and accounting systems
- lower storage costs
- reduced training and system development costs.
At the same time however, eInvoicing faces obstacles such as:
- eInvoices are produced in a wide range of formats and according to many different standards. This hinders the smooth transfer of an e-invoice from one place to another, and prevents the realisation of the full benefits and cost savings of e-invoicing
- variation in national rules which govern the validity and acceptability of eInvoices in legal, financial and administrative terms. This makes their use in cross-border transactions within the EU difficult
- many potential users have concerns about the security of e-invoicing systems and the potential for misrepresentation in fraud.
Standardisation and eInvoicing
The Commission-funded European Committee for Standardization (CEN) runs a number of activities on issues related to eInvoicing implementation.
A series of informal meetings with representatives of standards organisations produced the report 'eInvoicing Standardisation Overview, issues and conclusions for future actions', September 2012 (291 kB).
Following the adoption of the eInvoicing Directive 2014/55/EU and in accordance with the provisions of Article 3 within, the Commission issued a standardisation request (79 KB) (annex, 92 KB) to the European standardisation organisations in December 2014. The work is being carried out by the CEN Project Committee on Electronic Invoicing (CEN/PC 434).
EU funding for eInvoicing solutions
Under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), EU funding is available to support eInvoicing activities. Every year, call for grants are launched to select projects which can use EU money to set-up, upgrade and deploy eInvoicing solutions.