Transmission of European Directives
Belgium has legalized the use of eInvoice as of 1.1.2013 after the VAT law change. On the other hand, the mentioned law does not oblige the usage of eInvoices between the public and suppliers (B2G) at the federal level. The federal law on public procurement dated 7.4.2019 transposes the EU Directive 2014/55, which obliges to receive and process eInvoices.
As it is known, Belgium is a federal state divided into three regions. The Dutch-speaking Flemish region to the north, the French-speaking Walloon region to the south, and the bilingual capital Brussels, where the French and Dutch share official status.
The Flanders regional government has decided to apply eInvoice in B2G transactions mandatory for economic actors from 1.1.2017. About 80% of all invoices received by the Government of Flanders are full-fledged eInvoices based on Peppol definitions. On the other hand, the use of eInvoice increased to 78% in March 2021 in the context of the region. Public administrations in Belgium’s other federal region, the Brussels-Capital Region, have also been applying only eInvoices in all public tenders since 11.11.2020.
e-Invoicing platform and eInvoice management solutions
The Belgian federal government launched a program in 2012 to support the adoption of e-Invoicing. It estimates that 3.37 billion Euros save per year if the usage of eInvoicing becomes widespread in Belgium. Directive 2014/55 applies especially to e-Invoicing in public procurement. The Directive obliges public administrations in EU countries to adopt the European Norm. Appropriate mobilization and coordination of Belgian businesses, the public sector and IT sector and other service providers in invoice processing is key to the spread of electronic invoicing.
Peppol for the Mercurius platform and the Belgian public sector
In the context of the eInvoice adoption program, the federal government established the Mercurius platform, which facilitates systems integration between sellers and buyers.
First, it relieves invoice senders of the burden of bilateral connections with all public sector recipients. Second, it supports public sector organizations in their journey to adopt e-Invoicing. Mercurius also includes a web portal accessible to all Belgian organizations that provide tracking and tracing services to senders, receivers and service providers. The portal also supports the manual submission of invoices. According to the eInvoicing Directive, Belgium uses Peppol BIS BILLING 3.0, which corresponds to CIUS EN 16931. Peppol 3.0 is the only solution that can use for both cross-industry and cross-border exchange. Thus, this solution supports the goal of consolidation. Ultimately, it is exclusively compatible with Mercurius Peppol. This approach offers a comprehensive solution to fragmentation problems in eInvoice. Such platforms also encourage users to contribute actively.
Implementation of the European Standard (EN) on eInvoicing
All organizations in Belgium can receive eInvoice following the European standard for eInvoicing using the components described above. The syntax used for all eInvoices received through Mercurius is OASIS UBL 2.1.
Monitoring the eInvoice application
There is a monitoring system at the central and sub-central levels. Mercurius provides partial tracking as the use of this platform is not mandatory. The units of measure for this tracking are the number of suppliers using eInvoice, the number of invoices sent electronically. Many public sector organizations use eInvoice through Mercurius. Current statistics are available on this website.