Public authorities will have to be prepared to accept electronic invoices issued by contractors of public tenders under the draft rules approved by Parliament on Tuesday. The draft law, already informally agreed with national governments, asks the Commission to set an EU standard for this type of invoices, while ensuring that a new system should be flexible, cost-efficient and responding to the special needs of SMEs and local authorities.

Currently e-invoicing in EU is very limited, representing only from 4 to 15 % of all invoices, depending on a member state. Different and not interoperable national e-invoicing standards increase the complexity, legal uncertainty and cost for companies to pursue cross-border tenders.

 

Under the guidance of the rapporteur Birgit Collin-Langen (EPP, DE) MEPs acknowledged the importance of stimulating e-invoicing market across the EU, and in particular the use of these invoices in public procurement. They agreed that common European standard of e-invoices could help to overcome market fragmentation and amended draft law so as to ensure that the Commission will seek to make a new system practical, flexible, cost-efficient and respecting the special needs of SMEs and local authorities.

 

MEPs also suggested to define the key components of e-invoices, for example, seller's and buyer's information, details of acquired goods or services delivery and etc..


The new draft rules stipulate that public authorities should be prepared to accept electronic invoices drawn up according to European standard, but at the same time leaving the issuer of an invoice a freedom to decide if they want to send a paper invoice or an electronic one.

 

After the entry in to force of new rules Commission will have 3 years to develop, test and approve European standard for these invoices, the text says. MEPs ensured that only reasonable further 18 months could be given for central governments (30 months for regional and local authorities) to enforce the new rules.


The new directive, adopted with 646 votes in favour, 25 against and 5 abstentions, still has to be formally approved by the Council.

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