The Council agreed “a general approach” on the Statutory Audit Directive, proposed by the Commission in March 2004. This is an important step towards the final adoption of this Directive in a single reading by mid 2005. The Directive is now in the hands of the European Parliament for examination.
On auditors’ independence - a much debated issue - the text agreed prohibits auditors from being the statutory auditor of a company with which they have a relationship that compromises their independence. Statutory auditors of all types of companies have to consider the threats and safeguards implied in the situations of self-review, self-interest, advocacy, familiarity or trust or intimidation. But as far as public interest entities are concerned, the Council’s text requires in addition Member States to prohibit, where appropriate, an auditor from being a statutory auditor in cases of self-review or self-interest.
Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said: “I am very pleased that the Council has agreed an approach that the Commission can support and I hope the Council and the Parliament will now work together and with the Commission to adopt it quickly. Financial statements have to be reliable and investors have to believe that they are reliable. Further strengthening trust in auditors will help create the stable climate of investor confidence that the EU needs to become more competitive.”
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