Regulation of financial reporting in the EU

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08 Dec 2006

Charlie McCreevy, the European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, spoke on Financial Reporting in the EU: Striking the Right Regulatory Balance at a conference organised by the European Accounting Federation (FEE) in Brussels.

Here are excerpts on several matters:

Fair value reporting. "Today's Conference will explore, in particular, whether principles-based fair value reporting poses a conflict between transparency and stability. It will also consider whether greater access to information over the internet is an opportunity or a risk. The accounting firms are right to provoke a debate on this. Personally, I am sceptical about the benefits, but I will be interested to hear the outcome of your discussions."

Implementation of IFRSs. "I think there is a feeling out there that the investment was worth it and that the benefits outweigh the initial costs. However, we still need to maintain our focus so that further improvements can be made. In particular, more consistency and more coherence still need to be developed. We can debate the theoretical value or not of fair value reporting until the cows come home but if there are big differences of approach across the EU, then this will certainly not contribute to financial stability and transparency."

Statutory audit. "The Commission has wide powers to deliver implementing measures under the new statutory audit directive, but I will follow my motto of 'less is more'. Implementing measures will be adopted only after their usefulness is fully demonstrated. Two issues need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. Firstly, how to deal with third country auditors. The Commission will launch a consultation early next year on this. We want, above all, to avoid duplication. The starting point for cooperation between oversight bodies should be the home country principle. This is why I have suggested to the US PCAOB that we should develop a roadmap towards future cooperation between US and EU oversight bodies. This has been done in the accounting field and it should be done for auditing, too. Secondly, we need to consider what should be done about the adoption of the IAASB's International Standards on Auditing, the so-called 'ISAs'. I envisage that we might also launch a consultation on this in the course of next year."

IFRS for SMEs. "Work is also going on within the IASB on SME accounting. Again, I would repeat that what are needed are simple, easy to apply standards that help business. From what I have seen up to now, I have doubts whether the IASB standards will be able to achieve that. And I am very well aware that many in business share this concern."

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