During the history of the European Union, 2013 will go down like the year during which the obstructions of electronic invoicing were removed. Innovative European Directives are going to utilise technology to strengthen business operations, with objective of reducing expenditures and expanding business efficiency. As such, the European Commission wishes to improve electronic invoicing and insure prevalent usage of electronic invoices through the year 2020.
A Journey Through Electronic Invoicing Legislation in the European Community
From 2001, the European Union manages electronic invoicing through Directive 2001/115/EC. Twelve years afterwards, Directive 2010/45/EU - which in several member countries was executed before January 1st, 2013 - amended the current regulating framework for electronic invoicing.
Council Directive 2001/115/CE was made as a response towards need to legislatively establish how conventional paper and electronic invoices must exist together. Additionally to normal demands, the Directive also established that Member States must accept invoices sent by e-mail if their legality of origin and stability of content was assured through one of the listed below ways:
- A Sophisticated electronic signature.
- An established set-up of electronic data exchange, generally known as EDI, for acronym in French (change de Donnes Informatis).
Irrespective of the early intention of the European Commission to standardize legislation on electronic invoicing, in reality, the Directive was ambiguous and brought about various difficulties in intra-EU transactions. Several of the contradictory statements defined inside the Directive can be the underneath:
- Member States that desired to toughen the necessities for legitimate electronic invoicing thru innovative electronic signatures and accredited electronic certificates were allowed to do so.
- Member States wouldn't be able to apply any kind of obligations relating to the application of electronic invoices.
- Member States were permitted to undertake and approve internal rules to determine the legality of an electronic invoice, with out the need for using any of the two accepted procedures (innovative electronic signature and EDI systems).
Amongst other consequences, this meant that it had been tough for organizations from versatile States to connect with organizations from more severe states. After all, the 1st must meet the regulations of the land of city; to match the requirements of the State of the latter. Even among Member States that demanded an enhanced electronic invoice there were troubles, as they were handling different security levels (thru the innovative electronic signature or just a registered electronic signature).
Thankfully, Directive 2010/45/EU - administered all through the year 2013 - to some extent fixes this circumstance of uncertainty involving electronic invoicing. The major distinctions in between the two directives are as given below:
- Conventional paper and electronic invoices are equivalent on a legislative and economical level.
- The reliability of integrity and origin of content are yet required in both formats, but participants are not forced to utilize an electronic signature or EDI exchange system. On the latest Directive, similar systems depending on internal corporate controls will also be permitted.
- The invoice receiver must accept receiving invoices in electronic format, whilst this is also not mandatory regarding conventional paper invoices.
A Critical Point of view
With Directive 2010/45/EU, the supplying organization and the client are free to choose the desired choice to guarantee the legitimacy of integrity & origin of electronic invoice. Eventually, since 2013, the new and 3 rd option for administration has accomplished importance, aside from the electronic signature and EDI data exchange. This 3rd methodology allows organizations to utilize other methods depending on internal regulations.
However, this modern option -internal business control- is truly a wide and uncertain idea, basically because over one type of technique is allowed, for example matching-up the invoice with the corresponding bank payment. A combined business modus operandi will exclusively practical after a time period of day-to-day implementation.
In contrast, the truth that demand of endorsement from the recipient primarily concerns electronic invoicing rather than to paper's format; this shows that EU is offering time to companies and customers to get used to the new digital condition.
There's no skepticism that this inclusion of such new invoicing process systems will drastically improve invoice generation, sending and reception; which in return, will result in cost reductions. Alternatively, the problems associated with safe-keeping and custody brought on by the electronic signature will vanish.