The Competitiveness Council took a step towards the digitisation of public procurement and of the European economy in general. Meeting on 2 December in Brussels, the 28 ministers in charge of competition policy agreed on a general approach(1) to the draft directive on e-invoicing in public procurement(2). They endorsed the agreement worked out in November in the Committe of Permanent Representatives (Coreper) on this uncontroversial text and asked the Presidency to begin negotiations with the European Parliament on the basis of this general approach, with the objective reaching an agreement at first reading.
The coexistence of different legal requirements and technical standards, and mostly national non-interoperable systems, is hindering the development of this method of invoicing. At the request of Parliament in April 2012 and the European Council, the Commission proposed the development of a European e-invoicing standard, under the supervision of the European Centre for Standardisation (CEN).
It also proposed to make e-invoices mandatory for public procurement provided they comply with the common standards developed in the meantime. The use of e-invoicing could result in savings of 2.3 billion, improve transparency and legal certainty.
Although the executive foresees transposition of the directive on introduction of this European standard, the Council's general approach gives member states 30 more months...