knowledge | 12 June 2019 |

E-Invoicing in Public Procurement: Ireland Transposes New Rules (After a Nudge)

On 12 June 2019 the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform gave effect to Directive 2014/55/EU on electronic invoicing in public procurement by enacting statutory instrument no. 258 of 2019, known as the European Union (Electronic Invoicing in Public Procurement) Regulations 2019. 

European Directive 2014/55/EU on e-invoicing in public procurement obliges contracting authorities and contracting entities ‘to receive and process electronic invoices’ (so called “eInvoices”) compliant with the European Standard.  The deadline for EU countries to transpose the Directive into their national laws and comply with the European standard on e-invoicing was 18 April 2019.  While public bodies must be able to accept e-invoices by this deadline, there is no requirement on suppliers in Ireland to send electronic invoices to Irish public bodies.  For the purpose of the Directive and the Irish Regulations, “electronic invoice” means an invoice that has been issued, transmitted and received in a structured electronic format which allows for its automatic and electronic processing.  The Directive establishes a European Standard or norm for eInvoicing as the structured electronic format that public bodies are obliged to receive and process.  In general, the Directive applies to Member State contracting authorities and contracting entities as defined by Directive 2014/24 and Directive 2014/25 and who are subject to public procurement law.  However the Irish Regulations shall not apply to sub-central contracting authorities or contracting entities until 18 April 2020.

The European Commission (“Commission”) has identified eInvoicing as a key enabler in Europe’s move towards a Digital Single Market.  EU countries and the European Commission decided to introduce a European Standard for e-invoicing in response to the many e-invoice formats used across the EU. It was felt by the Commission and EU member states that these varied formats caused unnecessary complexity and high costs for businesses and public entities. They agreed that the benefits of electronic invoicing are maximised when the generation, sending, transmission, reception and processing of an invoice can be fully automated.  The move towards fully automated eInvoices should help public entities contribute to the modernisation of domestic payment infrastructure and reduce business costs.  This is achieved by increased control over cash flow, reduced material cost and environmental impact, reduced data error and quicker and cheaper processing.  The standardisation of electronic invoicing also complements efforts to promote the uptake of electronic procurement as reflected in the relevant provisions of Directive 2014/24/EU and Directive 2014/25/EU. 

At a national level, the Office of Government Procurement (“OGP”) has established “eInvoicing Ireland” which is responsible for facilitating public bodies in becoming compliant with the e-invoicing Directive.  Through the OGP, eInvoicing Ireland has established a procurement framework which provides public bodies with access to the services and solutions they need to reach compliance. 

The transposition of the Directive comes shortly after the sending, by the European Commission, of a letter of formal notice to Ireland (and 11 other Member States) due to its alleged failure to transpose EU rules on electronic invoicing (“e-invoicing”) in public procurement and to implement the European e-invoicing standard by the required deadline (which was 18 April 2019).  The letter of formal notice is the first step in the European Commission’s infringement procedure, which can escalate as far as the Court of Justice of the European Union (although continuation of the procedure seems unlikely now that Ireland has transposed the Directive).

Also Contributed By: Eoin Creaner; Emma Hinds, Edel O'Connell and Lauren MacLean.

This document has been prepared by McCann FitzGerald LLP for general guidance only and should not be regarded as a substitute for professional advice. Such advice should always be taken before acting on any of the matters discussed.

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