Key Features

Interoperability Layers

Altogether the CEN BII specifications addressed different interoperability layers:

  • Organisational interoperability (the CEN BII profile)
  • Semantic interoperability (the CEN BII data model with the related information content)
  • Technical interoperability (syntax binding – currently available to UBL and UN/CEFACT)

While semantic interoperability focuses on the “meaning” of data elements, the syntax refers to the “structure” of the data elements, defining how data for a business transaction should be structured when moving “on the wire”. It refers to a common data format and common protocol to structure any data so that the manner of processing the information will be interpretable from the structure.

A CEN BII profile can be structured using different standard syntaxes as long as the standard chosen caters to all the necessary data elements. Although the CEN BII profile descriptions are syntax neutral, the workshop agreed to provide the market with implementable specifications, which describe how to map the required information to defined syntaxes, in particular to UN/CEFACT and UBL.


Each profile can be implemented independently, following a modular approach.

In order to facilitate efficient implementation, users could implement a single CEN BII profile for a specific process, without the need to automate the complete e-procurement cycle.

For example, an organisation interested in implementing electronic invoicing could consider the “Profile BII04 Invoice Only”. However, if the organisation requires the use of credit notes, then the ‘Profile BII05 Billing’ should be used, since it includes the invoice and credit note transactions, as part of the billing process.

Focus on the core set of elements – a “common denominator”.

A CEN BII profile includes information elements that cater for generally expressed business requirements applicable across Europe. The CEN BII Information Requirement Models define the core information set.

This core set of information elements will typically support the majority of user requirements. It allows for industry specific adoption using the combination of mandatory /optional elements and restrictions / extensions.

Self-conformance to a CEN BII profile

A CEN BII profile removed the need for bilateral agreement, as it functioned as an “agreement”. Organisations claiming conformance to CEN BII profile(s) were expected to be able to process and understand all the core information elements.

Transport independent

Electronic documents based on the CEN BII specifications can be exchanged independently of the communication mechanism used (email, FTP, PEPPOL Transport Infrastructure, etc.)

Technology Neutral

Specifications may be implemented independently of the technology used.