Eurostat sets out potential next steps for EU accounting standards

26 Mar 13
A leading Eurostat official has outlined how the project to adopt European Union accounting rules based on International Public Sector Accounting Standards could move forward.

By Nick Mann | 26 March 2013

A leading Eurostat official has outlined how the project to adopt European Union accounting rules based on International Public Sector Accounting Standards could move forward.

Speaking at a CIPFA and Ernst & Young event in Brussels, Alexandre Makaronidis talked about the need to build ‘momentum’ behind the idea of introducing across-the-board accrual-based accounting standards. A commission report published earlier this month said Ipsas should serve as an ‘indisputable reference’ for any European Public Sector Accounting Standards.

But Makaronidis, who is Eurostat project lead and head of Unit GFS quality management and government accounting, stressed the need to consider stakeholder concerns over the potential shape of any European Public Sector Accounting Standards, and the role that Ipsas could play in these.

Eurostat's consultation on whether Ipsas could be implemented across the EU had highlighted some concerns that standards were ‘incomplete’ and that the conceptual framework underpinning them was not due to be finalised until 2014, he explained.

Because of this, if the project moved forward, the European Commission would need to gather more information before developing a roadmap to the creation of Epsas.

‘Therefore we plan to hold a high-level conference and then we plan a further consultation based on the outcome of these discussions, then we can go on to preparing a more detailed framework,’ he said.

This preparatory stage would be followed by work on the practical arrangements for implementing the standards, including the legal framework for introducing the requirement for member states to use Epsas and the governance structure.

This would also address the cost. Makaronidis noted that it could be a ‘costly’ process for both member states and the European Commission to introduce the system.

Putting in place the practical arrangements would need to draw on countries’ individual experiences as well as utilising synergies both between and within member states, he said.

It would also require the commission to define the first of the Epsas to be put in place – considering which could be implemented as they are and which would require adaptation.

‘We have done some preparatory work,’ Makaronidis said. ‘The commission started a working document and with the help of our member states we have started some initial work on dividing Ipsas into three categories.’

He added: ‘There are a couple of standards about consolidation and financial instruments where member states think there’s quite a lot of reflection needed before we can get a European standard.’

Julia Katz, an adviser from the macroeconomics division of the European Central Bank,  told the event that the Eurostat report had made a ‘very convincing’ case for the introduction of Epsas across all government entities in all EU member states.

‘Creating and implementing Epsas would be a major milestone which is expected to increase the timeliness and reliability of fiscal data,’ she said.



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