ESAs comment on IFRS 17 endorsement process in the EU

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19 Oct, 2018

The European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) have jointly written to the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG) to express concerns on the endorsement process for IFRS 17 'Insurance Contracts'.

In September 2018, EFRAG agreed on a letter to the IASB regarding IFRS 17 to bring concerns of European constituents regarding the standard to the IASB's attention. While EFRAG is waiting for the IASB to consider these (and other) concerns, the endorsement process for IFRS 17 is temporarily put on hold. The IASB will discuss IFRS 17 concerns and implementation challenges at its meeting next week but no decisions are expected as yet.

The ESAs note the delay in the endorsement process with concern. Their letter states:

While, at this stage, we do not express any detailed technical views on IFRS 17, we reiterate the need to continue to progress and to finalise the analysis of IFRS 17 in a timely manner against the background of the effective date of IFRS 17 of 1 January 2021.

Similarly, in a speech given in Madrid today, the Chair of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), which is one of the ESAs, also commented on IFRS 17. He said:

[W]hile we are still analysing its technical details, one thing that can already be affirmed with certainty is that IFRS 17 will improve comparability and transparency of financial information on insurance contracts when compared to the current situation. [...] Therefore, while it is important to exercise caution in assessing the changes introduced by IFRS 17, I think it is necessary to avoid any further delays in reaching a common set of accounting standards for insurance contracts. [...W]e are quite concerned by the delay that we are observing in the endorsement process of IFRS 17 in the EU.

And while the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA), also one of the ESAs, does not explicitly refer to the endorsement process, it notes in its analysis of the benefits of IFRS 17 that has just now also become available:

EIOPA found that the expectedly increased transparency and comparability of insurers' financial statements through IFRS 17, providing better insights into insurers' business models, have the potential to strengthen financial stability in the European Economic Area (EEA). Therefore, EIOPA regards the implementation of IFRS 17 as beneficial for the European public good. [...] The introduction of IFRS 17 is a long overdue and positive shift of paradigm compared to IFRS 17's predecessor IFRS 4 Insurance Contracts.

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