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Open Seminar “Spreading Interoperability in eProcurement processes across Europe”

On Dec 6th, 2012 work done in CEN BII2 was explained in an Open Seminar in CEN. Here you can find a brief summary of the different and interesting presentations that are available at www.cenbii.eu.

Jostein Fromyr was chairing the Seminar on behalf of CEN BII2 chair Stuart Feder that was not able to attend.

There were two keynote speakers, Antonio Conte from DG ENTR and Alain Deckers from DG MARKET.

Antonio Conte explained the progress in the European Multi Stakeholder Forum for e-Invoicing and the success of the settlement of national fora that have been created in every member state following the same structure as the European one. He explained there are still 15 outstanding issues for standardization and there is a paper from DG ENTR where they are collected and can be discussed. His priority is to coordinate among the different entities of standardization to avoid duplication of efforts. He did a brief explanation of the goals and status of the four groups within the European Multi Stakeholder Forum and he also reminded that there is a public consultation ongoing until 23/1/13.

Alain Deckers explained that the eInvoicing is a key action in the Single Market Act II and there different options to meet two objectives:

  1. Take-up of eInvoicing, plans to make it mandatory for public procurement by mid-2013
  2. Interoperability. He would like to take actions to avoid fragmentations due to different legal restrictions implemented in different countries, and he also said that it should be avoided the fragmentation in public versus private sectors.

Alain Deckers also reminded about the public consultation and he said that the results of this consultation is important for the impact assessment they are doing before the legislative proposal.

Regarding the pre-award area, he mentioned two aspects:

  1. Regarding legislation, there was a new proposal on Dec 2011 to reform Public Procurement Directives, attempting to simplify procedures making them more flexible with for instance the use of self-declarations at the qualification stage. There is a willigness for a gradual transition to electronic public procurement, and there was a proposal to make eSubmission mandatory by mid-2016 but this is still under discussion in the Parliament and the Council. The proposal of reform was expected to be adopted by the end od 2012 but there is a little delay, so it is expected to be adopted during 2013.
  2. Other non-legislatives measures are the projects will be presented in an eProcurement seminar on the 14th of Dec. These projects are the Golden Book of Best Practices on e-Procurement, the e-TEG report and the IDC indicators on e-Procurement uptake.

Last comments from Alain Deckers were about the need to engage with international fora, and he explained that the EU has had, and will have meetings and discussions with China, Russia and the US. He finalized his presentation inviting the attendees to participate in the seminar about eProcurement the 14th of December.

After key note presentations, Jostein Fromyr, technical vice-chair presented the work done in the CEN BII2 WorkShop. He explained the 12 face to face meetings done during these two years around Europe, the number of companies and organizations participating actively in the work and the results of the CWA: 5 CWA with more than 100 documents. He explained that the main goal of CEN BII was not to create another standard but to describe how to use actual and available international standards, and this is why CEN BII defined the CORE information elements for most of the electronic documents in public procurement. He presented the different task teams and each of them presented their group achievements and future goals. These presentations were held by:

  • Didier Hardy, from the Official Publications of the EU, and eNotification task team leader.
  • Kornelis Drijfhout, from TenderNed, and eTendering task team leader.
  • Veit Jahns, from the University of Duisburg-Essen, and eCatalogue task team leader.
  • Sven Rasmussen, from Digst and on behalf of Bergthor Skulason, Postaward task team leader.
  • Jostein Fromyr, from Edisys and Architecture task team leader.

All the deliverables from CEN BII2 are available here.

After the presentation of the project, there was a session of questions and answers, where there were different assistants congratulating BII2 for this work. Some relevant questions:

  1. About the usage and adoption of BII2 profiles,
    • Jostein Fromyr explained that the first set of BII deliverables have been widely implemented in major projects such as PEPPOL and ePrior, but also in national implementations. There is an expectation to see first pilots and implementations of CEN BII2 deliverables early in 2013.
    • André Hoddevik from openPEPPOL explained that they will start working on the new CWA just in December
    • Tim Mc Grath explained that there are spontaneous implementations of BII and he referred to one in Australia
    • Johannes Vermeire from EESPA explained that they are going to recommend their members to use CEN BII2 profiles with UBL 2.1 syntax to allow interoperability. He said that the decision was made for pragmatic purposes and was decided the 22nd of November.
  2. There was a question about the syntax bindings, and there was noticed the lack of binding to UN/EDIFACT, and also whether the suggestion was to use two syntaxes or leave the user to decide.
    • Jostein Fromyr recognized there was no binding to EDIFACT but nothing prevents to do it if any stakeholders requires it. CEN BII2 methodology allows for any type of syntax binding. It was a matter of priorities, resources and requirements from the stakeholders.
    • Regarding the two syntaxes, Jostein reminded that the Workshop is not recommending one syntax over another. Interoperability is reached by means of the semantics specified in CEN BII.
  3. There was a question regarding test beds and availability of elements to improve and facilitate adoption.
    • Jostein Fromyr explained the collaborations with the CEN GITB workshop in order to create a Test Bed solution to improve the testing facilities for implementors. He also reminded the Workshop was providing a lot of tools allowing users to test whether the document instance in the wire was compliant to CEN BII2 specifications.

After lunch, Giancarlo De Stefano, vice-chair of CEN BII2, explained the cooperation efforts of the workshop with other initiatives both in the European and International landscape, and he presented the sessions for the user communities explaining the way they had used and implemented CEN BII deliverables.

Edmund Gray and Padraig Harte from Ireland explained how they implemented PEPPOL in Ireland and the technical improvements they suggested in order to smooth adoption. They said there is a mandate in Ireland to send electronic invoices through PEPPOL to all public sector agencies by 2016, and that they are promoting an Irish PEPPOL Authority.

Olav Kristiansen from DIFI in Norway explained the policies recommending PEPPOL in 2011 and their way to the current situation where the uptake of eInvoicing in Norway is quite large. He explained they are using ELMA (a registry) for receiving capabilities, CEN BII/PEPPOL/EHF as the technical standardization (EHF is a UBL like implementation) and that most of service providers and ERP vendors are able to provide PEPPOL services.

Didier Thunus from DG Digit explained the ePrior project. They were very involved in CEN BII first edition contributing in many aspects to the work that is still part of the methodology and foundation of CEN BII. After implementing CEN BII in ePrior, they have been able to exchange invoices without previous agreement or technical work with other user communities like EHF in Norway. They are now working on pre-award phases and also using the CEN BII profiles.

André Hoddevik from OpenPEPPOL explained the achievement of the contract between service providers without roaming fees. He explained also that the goal of OpenPEPPOL is not only cross-border, but it also can be deployed for internal use and cross-regions/sector interoperability. He explained the OpenPEPPOL AISBL initiative and his latter recommendations were to support BII3, to prioritize further development in preaward phases and to handover eInvoicing CEN BII2 to a CEN Technical Committee.

After another Q&A session, Jostein Fromyr explained the future steps of CEN BII. The presented items are still open for discussion, but he reminded there are still things to be done:

  1. There is a need to provide a focal point for governance
  2. There is a need to fill the gaps to ensure that all relevant aspects are covered
  3. Encourage increased adoption through capacity building

The idea is to create a third Workshop, CEN BII3 to take care of these needs, and the suggestion is to broad the scope of the workshop, moving from B2G to embrace also B2B in post-award in order to avoid fragmentation in private/public sectors which would harm SMEs.

He announced the kick-off conference for CEN BII3 will be held in March 2013 in Barcelona.

To finalize the seminar there was a round table with Antonio Conte, Peter Potgeiser, Har-Jan van Burg, Howard Mason, Jostein Fromyr where the need of more coordination among different initiatives was highlighted and it was also suggested the path towards a more global standardization for CEN BII deliverables.

There was a claim from Carmen Ciciriello for the politicians to legislate. She said the CEN BII had made the technical work, it has been demonstrated as being useful  and with real-life deployment experiences, therefore now is the turn of the politicians to legislate in order to clarify the situation  encouraging the use of things that actually work.

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