Preface to Final Report
“Europe is facing major challenges in the coming years as its enterprises and public sector need to become both significantly more productive and environmentally friendly. These needs are accentuated by the relative decline of population of working age and at the same time the growing demand for human resources in health and care sectors. It is more than obvious that very concrete, determined and widely impacting efforts have to be initiated to improve the competitiveness of European economies.
Many studies have pointed out that the digitalization and automation of administrative processes hold much, if not most, of the imminent productivity improvement potential. Migration to electronic structured invoicing is the most important step we can take in this direction – both as productivity and sustainability enhancers and as a key enabler for unification and automation in procurement, payment, tax, accounting processes and audits.
The work of the Expert Group and general market developments - have convinced us that the preconditions for a determined and concerted effort are in place. This should be done in such a way that the Single Market is furthered and the adoption of the Single Euro Payments Area is supported. Further unification steps should be taken fast as processes otherwise will become fragmented and very difficult for small and medium-sized enterprises to handle.
The Expert Group started its work in early 2008 and has convened for a total of 24 days of physical as well as countless telephone meetings. Every meeting has increased the understanding of the importance of e-invoicing and created consensus towards the recommendations of this unanimously adopted report. The recommendations aim at being as clear and concrete as possible. All stakeholders should now do their part to build on this base.
Nevertheless it is clear, that the implementation of these recommendations and the fast migration to e-invoicing requires firm EU level leadership. The recommended next step is that the Commission establishes an EU level Multi Stakeholder Forum to promote the implementation of the recommendations, guide standardization efforts and champion the further development of e-invoicing into a Single Market practice. Similar bodies should be established on national level and be a key contributor to the EU-level forum.
I want to thank all Expert Group members, external experts and supporters from the Commission for so much hard work and their contribution to the good results of our collaboration.
While waiting for the next steps – please check material from the EC conference and thorough Deutsche Bank report (please debate Catalyst or not aspect – yes for SMEs – no for large enterprises – but yes also for large enterprises if they understand the value of a generic toolset)