A common standard for public sector e-procurement has come a step closer as the Pan-European Public Procurement On-line (PEPPOL) project moves towards the pilot phase. The standard will enable the pan-European exchange of electronic invoices and other business documents between the public and private sector.
PEPPOL has been in development since May 2008 and is driven by the European Commission (EC) and a consortium of 19 representatives from 13 countries. This initiative aims to increase transparency and efficiency of public sector procurement, ultimately enabling any company, including small and medium enterprises (SMEs), to respond to published public tender notices electronically, send other electronic documents to public institutions and to govern the entire procurement process from their own national infrastructure to other national infrastructures.
At the moment, there is very little purchasing taking place across borders in the EU public sector. “The PEPPOL project is one key element in driving a change to this. In order to compete effectively, it is important that EU Member States improve public sector capability to share documents electronically. PEPPOL is a collaborative project designed to enhance competitiveness and increase efficiency of EU public sector procurement processes. Based on a common platform, PEPPOL will eventually enable the private sector to utilise the network as well as make it much easier for SMEs to do business outside of their own countries, opening new markets to this sector,” said Olli-Pekka Rissanen, special adviser at Ministry of Finance in Finland.
Basware, a purchase-to-pay provider and the technical advisor on e-procurement for PEPPOL, has worked in conjunction with the Ministry of Finance in Finland to develop the technical specification and proof of concept for the platform which is designed to help European companies participate electronically on equal terms in EU-wide public sector competitive bidding.
The project is closely linked to the realisation of the EU service directive and to improving inner-market efficiency within the region. The total budget for the project is €30.8m and the pilot infrastructure is due to be completed at the end of 2010. Based on open standards, the infrastructure will be independent of operators, which ensures open price competition. In addition to Finland, the consortium supporting the project includes Norway, Denmark, Germany, the UK, Austria, Hungary and Italy.
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