Sunday, October 31, 2010

Will the European Commission pass the next test?

The first test was to find an automatic non-political tool steering members states away from overspending and overborrowing. The test was passed with flying colors – but was put aside (for a while) by national politics. Let us hope it gets back on track soon.

The next test is to do something real – and bold – for the Single Market. Most of the potential benefits from this unification -  for 23m European Enterprises (who bake the welfare cake), for better employment in the short term and better jobs for an increasingly scarce workforce in the near future – is still ahead of us.

There is strong support for going this way – concretely from Germany in this statement: Werner Hoyer (aide to German foreign minister) on Germany's vision of Europe:  "it is to secure Europe's role success in a globalised world". That means "deepening economic integration, dismantling remaining barriers to the single market and dealing with other powers through Brussels, not national capitals."

The by far most important next step – for the all-important productivity is migration to e-invoicing (a 250bn case – easily when all follow-on automation has been effected). It is – at the same time - also the most important next step towards the Single Market. Much more important than SEPA – adoption of which it will boost as invoices have to be paid and the ISO20022 standards are interlinked. Killing two rather big birds with one stone….

Will the Commission be bold and concrete when taking this forward?

I am rather sure – especially as we have already so much in place:

1. the ISO20022 standard set for invoices, payments, payment references and account statements

2. the VAT-directive for equal treatment

3. the work on a rulebook for service providers by EBA (for a network of banks and other services providers)

4. Rapidly growing numbers of deadlines for paper and PDF-invoices

But it is not only the commission that needs to act. It is even more important for enterprises to drive open generic solutions and the ISO standards they have built the base for   – as opposed to enterprise specific portals and scanning. Service providers should see to it that interoperability in a 4-corner model is understood as a clear win-win and only sound solution from a competition angle.

With so much in place failure to get to the Single Market model – fast -  can not be an option.

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