The sovereign debt crisis has underlined the need for more rigorous, transparent and comparable reporting of fiscal data. Council Directive 2011/85/EU (the Budgetary Frameworks Directive) sets out the rules on Member State budgetary frameworks necessary to ensure compliance with the Treaty obligation to avoid excessive government deficits. In this context it requested the Commission to assess the suitability of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) for the Member States.
The European Commission has forwarded its assessment to the Council and European Parliament. The report, which is accompanied by a staff working document, is based on information received through consultations with Commission services, international organisations, Member States’ experts and other interested parties. It concludes that, even if IPSAS cannot be implemented in EU Member States as it stands currently, the IPSAS standards represent an indisputable reference for potential development of European Public Sector Accounting Standards (EPSAS), based on a strong EU governance system.
For the full text of the report, the staff working document and the supporting study see:
COM (2013) 114 - "Report from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament – Towards implementing harmonised public sector accounting standards in the Member States"
SWD (2013) 57 - Commission staff working document
In order to support the assessment a survey was carried out of the public sector accounting and auditing practices in the Member States.
Overview and comparison of public accounting and auditing practices in the 27 EU Member States
A Conference was held on 29-30 May 2013 in Brussels at which Mr Algirdas Šemeta, Commissioner for Taxation, Customs, Statistics, Audit and Anti-fraud, brought together high-level stakeholders and decision makers from public sector accounting, auditing and statistics to discuss the future development of harmonised government accounting standards in Europe.
Following the keynote speech of Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council. the conference discussed the importance of developing economic governance in the context of the current economic situation and the need for transparent and comparable fiscal data and underlying public accounts. It also covered key issues for accounting harmonisation in the EU and examples of the experience of some countries in modernising their public sector accounting and financial reporting. The conference concluded with a roundtable on lessons learned, best practices and the next steps to be taken.
For further information on the Conference, see:http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/conferences/introduction/2013/epsas
Collection of information on potential impacts of EPSAS and technical assessment of the suitability of the current suite of IPSAS
With a view to taking forward the EPSAS project, aimed at creating and implementing harmonised public sector accounting standards in the EU Member States, it is necessary to assess and duly consider the economic and social impacts of the proposed reform.
As a means of informing those considerations on EPSAS, in 2013 Eurostat contracted a study to analyse the potential costs and benefits, taking IPSAS as a proxy for future EPSAS, of implementing harmonized accrual accounting in the EU Member States. The study further analyses from a technical point of view the existing suite of IPSAS standards and their application in the EU Member States. The final report from that study is available here: Collection of information related to the potential impact, including costs, of implementing accrual accounting in the public sector and technical analysis of the suitability of individual IPSAS standards.
While acknowledging the care taken by the contractor to ensure the highest possible quality of the report, the limitations inherent in particular in the analysis and extrapolation of costs data should be borne in mind when interpreting the results.
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