Tabasso votes against report of European Expert Group on e-Invoicing

One member of the The European Commision Expert Group on e-Invoicing, Gianfranco Tabasso, did not vote in favor of its final report published in November, 2009.  The report defines a list of business requirements which represent necessary conditions for achieving mass adoption of e-Invoicing, in particular the widespread use of e-Invoicing by SMEs. Mr Tabasso, moderator of the payment and SEPA working group of the European Association of Corporate Treasurers,  explains:

"In my opinion, the move from a rule-based to a principle-based VAT Directive and the elimination of Article 233 go in the opposite direction of what is needed to create legal certainty, clear rules and compliance with standards. In a technical domain like e-invoicing, the latter are requirements for “more” interoperability among e-invoicing providers and endusers. In my view, in their deliberations, the EG based itself on the false premise, that electronic signatures are the major obstacle to a wider use of e-invoicing. E-signature is depicted as a complex, costly technical device that scares away SMEs and is “unnecessary” to provide Authenticity and Integrity of electronic invoices. I maintain that “complexity” is not created by the e-signature – a simple, low cost, indispensable instrument for protecting e-documents end-to-end on open networks – but by European VAT Legislation, whose voids (e.g. legal archiving), ambiguities and options left to MS led to significant differences in local legislation and practices and to a lack of cross-border interoperability. Eliminating Article 233, a normupon which, in the last 8 years, the majority of member states have built detailed national einvoicinglegislations, undermines the certainty of the law and the uniformity of use which those legislations have painfully achieved. Making e-signature an “optional”, replacing thenorm with “freedom of choice” and voluntary compliance with a set of “high principles” and a“generic” Code of Conduct introduces a great deal of uncertainty in the market, arbitrarinesson the part of Tax Authorities and diversity of solutions which, in turn, make interoperabilitymore difficult. In my view, the discussion about these principles was inadequate and, as a result, the EG has failed to give an original interpretation which is both convincing and usefulin the real world."

November, 30 th, 2010, Brussels, Belgium


Source: European Commission, WWW.EC.EUROPE.EU

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