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IFRS Foundation Trustees Chair delivers speech on the EU fitness check

  • IFRS - IASB Image

Nov 30, 2018

On November 30, 2018, the Chair of the IFRS Foundation Trustees, Erkki Liikanen, delivered the keynote speech at the EU Conference in Brussels, discussing the results of the EU fitness check.

Mr. Liikanen began by reviewing the history of how the EU decided to adopt IFRS instead of adapting them into EU GAAP. He noted the importance of that decision and how most of the world has followed suit. He then stated:

All things considered, the IFRS project has been a success at an international level. Is it also viewed as a success at an EU level? The answer to that is provided by the EU Fitness Check.

He went on to praise the EU fitness check, mentioning high participation within — and outside of — the EU. He explained that the number of external comments could be attributed to (1) many non-EU domiciled companies and investors having interests in the EU and being impacted by EU policies; and (2) the EU's approach to corporate reporting — particularly IFRS Standards — is "highly influential in shaping the policies of other jurisdictions".

Mr. Liikanen described the financial reporting perspective of the EU fitness check, mentioning that "the report shows that things are working well". He acknowledged that not everything is perfect, but highlighted that there is not much support for substantive change:

Most respondents felt that IFRS Standards are effective, helping to reduce the cost of capital and increase investments within the EU. Few believed that the Standards have led to procyclicality and short-termism, while most believed that the EU’s policy on IFRS Standards has promoted more integrated capital markets in the EU and internationally. This is encouraging feedback and shows the importance of our Standards to the EU’s Capital Markets Union project and the wellbeing of the global economy more broadly.

He also discussed the fitness check results related to the "carve-in" mechanism proposed to modify IFRS Standards in the EU. Mr. Liikanen reported that three quarters of all respondents supported the status quo of a restricted endorsement process and argued against carve-ins. He did acknowledge that a minority of respondents argued for the carve-in mechanisms; he provided their perspective that it would help the EU exert greater influence on the IASB's standard-setting process. He explained:

This topic of influence is an important one and should not be dismissed. Every major jurisdiction sets out to influence the international agenda, and this is naturally relevant also for the EU. The EU signed up to IFRS Standards from the very beginning, has been a strong and vocal supporter of IFRS Standards as the global standard, and the EU has endorsed pretty much every standard the IASB has ever issued. So, I completely understand the desire to be highly influential in a process to create standards that are mandated for use across the EU.

The question is how best to exert that influence. To collect views, to analyse concerns, to present them well and to win the argument through logic and reason. The EU has a great deal of experience in this area, because that is how its own internal decision-making works.

Mr Liikanen said that many people see carve-ins as an "opt-out" clause from international IFRS system, of which the EU is a major player. He emphasised that he sees the fitness check as an endorsement that the system is working well as-is. He opined that "the best way for the EU to influence the IASB is through the quality of its work and the persuasiveness of its arguments".

Review the full text of Mr. Liikanen's speech on the IASB's website.

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