In early February, in a further boost to electronic trading across the European Union, the Competitiveness Council created a set of goals designed to promote online trade and electronic invoicing. Meeting in Denmark, various ministers laid out a timeline promoting several web-based trading systems with a view to doubling online sales by 2015.
The push for greater use of business technology is also reflected by attempts to grow online public markets until 2016, and e-Invoicing until at least 2020. The Danish EU presidency presented figures to ministers suggesting that growth of the digital single market would undoubtedly grow European GDP, perhaps by as much as four per cent over the next eight years.
The European Commission recognise that at present digital public procurement markets remain a relatively niche sector of the wider marketplace, but the well documented benefits of switching from manual to digital processing should benefit member states in the long run. Factoring in reductions in manual administration should also help reduce costs and foster a greater degree of competition between suppliers at the point of tender.
During the same meeting, ministers backed the findings of the European Commission publication ‘e-Invoicing: Reaping the benefits of electronic invoicing for Europe’, which suggests increased adoption of the technology for cross-border e-Invoicing for member states. The report suggests that introduction of e-Invoicing between Eurozone members will significantly improve international supply chains across Europe creating working capital gains in excess of £300 million.
The move towards greater use of eProcurement systems and increased online trading comes in the same week that the European Union legislated for the new Single European Payments Area (SEPA), designed to facilitate easier banking across the region. Although the EU still trails behind several South American countries in their use of e-Procurement and invoicing, these recent changes will finally start to see that change.