Study of IFRS implementation in Europe in 2006

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06 May 2009

The European Commission has published Evaluation of the Application of IFRS in the 2006 Financial Statements of EU Companies.

This is a study, conducted by a consulting firm, of the 2006 IFRS consolidated financial statements of 270 groups whose shares trade on a regulated exchange in Europe. This study is similar to a Study of 2005 IFRS Financial Statements conducted for the European Commission by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales in March 2007. The new study (dated December 2008 but just released by the European Commission) is published in two parts: Below is an excerpt from the executive summary.

There is significant support for this overall IFRS initiative and its accompaniment from the sample of stakeholders that we have canvassed, for example:

  • 'Our national GAAP were well engineered, but nobody could understand them beyond our country'.
  • 'Our clients now make more easily cross border investments since they understand the figures'.
  • 'Cooperation and exchange of information through CESR is boosting the enhancement of enforcement of regulations'.

As our analysis of the 270 financial statements has shown, the quality of disclosure by preparers improved in 2006, although further efforts are needed to attain full compliance.

Additional efforts are also needed to further enhance the level of enforcement. As stated in paragraph 3.1 the level of enforcement varies widely between the 25 member states and the CESR identified in 2006 only 10 countries fully compliant with enforcement standards. There are a number of issues to address with certain of the standards to simplify, adapt and/or make clearer the financial information reported as set out on paragraph 3.3.

Difficulties we encountered during our analysis of financial statements, and comments made by enforcers and other stakeholders, indicates that the issue of how far to go in standardising presentation formats for ease of reading and comparability needs to be addressed. This topic could potentially be examined in liaison with developments on potential computerisation and coding of financial statement disclosures.

During interviews with national stakeholders, it became clear that the implementation of IFRS in the European Union has changed and somewhat diminished their roles. These changes in roles and focus of national stakeholders need to be examined more fully in order to ensure that there is optimisation of all efforts of each of the national stakeholders in promoting, assisting in implementation and ensuring compliance with the IFRS as endorsed by the European Union.

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