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No 2 (February 96/Février 96/Februar 96)
A Communication on "Accounting Harmonisation: a new Strategy vis-à-vis International Harmonisation" was adopted by the Commission on 14 November 1995. The Communication outlines a Commission action plan to ensure European Union companies looking to raise capital on international markets do not have to draw up more than one set of consolidated accounts. The action plan also aims to improve the comparability of accounts drawn up by companies in different Member States.
Key objectives of the new strategy proposed by the Commission are:
- easier access for European companies to international capital
The problem for companies seeking stock exchange listing outside the EU is that the accounts which they prepare on the basis of their national legislation, which follows from the EU Accounting Directives (notably the 4th and 7th Company Law Directives on annual and consolidated accounts, 78/660/EEC and 83/349/EEC), are not accepted in major securities markets outside Europe. Instead, EU-based companies wishing to raise capital on third country markets can be required to establish different sets of accounts in order to meet different financial reporting requirements. For example, when Daimler-Benz sought a listing on the New York Stock Exchange, it was obliged to reorganise its accounting system completely in order to satisfy the requirements imposed by the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The production of different sets of accounts with different results or the reconciliation of accounts with the indication of different amounts for net profit and shareholders equity is misleading and reduces investors' confidence in the credibility of the accounting rules. In order to bridge the gap between present financial reporting requirements in the EU and the needs of the international capital markets, a new strategy has been proposed in the Communication.
First step: checking the conformity of international standards with EU
As a matter of priority, the Commission will therefore examine, together with the Member States in the context of the Contact Committee on the Accounting Directives, the conformity of existing International Accounting Standards (IAS) with the EU's Accounting Directives. Establishing that these standards are in conformity with the Accounting Directives is an essential first step if Member States are to allow their large companies to prepare their accounts on this basis. If this examination reveals any inconsistencies between the Directives and IAS, these will be examined on a case by case basis.
Improve the comparability of consolidated accounts
It is proposed to concentrate the work of the Contact Committee on consolidated accounts. A more general approach including individual accounts would be more likely to run into controversy, since these are in many Member States directly related to reporting for tax purposes and to the assessment of the profit available for distribution.
The Commission believes that professionals using and preparing accounts should remain closely associated with the work of the EU in the accounting field. The Accounting Advisory Forum, which was set up in 1991 and comprises representatives of the main professions using and preparing accounts as well as of national accounting standard setting bodies, will therefore continue its role as a consultative body. The expertise available in the Forum will be associated with the technical work of the Contact Committee.
La Commission a adopté le 14 novembre 1995 une communication qui définit une nouvelle stratégie en matière d'harmonisation comptable internationale. Il s'agit, d'une part, de faire en sorte que les entreprises européennes opérant sur les marchés internationaux ne soient tenues d'élaborer qu'une seule série de comptes consolidés sur base des normes internationales et, d'autre part, d'améliorer la comparabilité des comptes consolidés élaborés par les entreprises des différents Etats membres.
Am 14. November 1995 hat die Kommission eine Mitteilung angenommen, in der eine neue Strategie zur Harmonisierung der internationalen Rechnungslegungsgrundsätze formuliert wird. Auf diese Weise soll erreicht werden, daß europäische Unternehmen, die auf internationalen Märkten tätig sind, nur noch einen konsolidierten Abschluß nach internationalen Rechnungslegungsnormen erstellen müssen. Gleichzeitig wird so die Vergleichbarkeit der von Unternehmen aus verschiedenen Mitgliedstaaten erstellten konsolidierten Abschlüsse verbessert.
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