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December 17, 2013

Profession remains cautious on EU preliminary agreement of audit reform

By Vincent Huck

The accounting profession has welcomed the preliminary agreement between the Lithuanian presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) and the European Parliament (EP) on the framework of the EU audit reform, but concerns remain.

Earlier today, the EU Council announced that a preliminary agreement had been reached with the EP on the framework of the EU audit reform, and that the agreement will be subject to approval by the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER), later in the week.

Until the member states have approved the agreement the details of the package won’t be made public.

Commenting on the announcement, ICAEW chief executive Michael Izza said "there is now hope for all the required follow-up work to be completed before, rather than be stalled by, the EU elections next year".

He added that the reform carried a lot of new requirements, some of which will automatically be translated into law at country level and some that will take longer to trickle through.

"While we have been concerned about certain parts of the proposals, focus now needs to move to the transition and practical implications," he said. "It will take time for everybody involved – the profession, businesses, regulators – to work through the details and get to grips with all the changes."

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants technical director Sue Almond, welcomed the preliminary agreement reached by the two EU institutions and said the challenge for the audit profession will be to implement these changes in a way that helps restore public confidence in the audit, and in auditors.

However Grant Thornton International director Nick Jeffrey remained sceptical about the announcement and said he didn’t think there can be said an agreement has been reached so far, even in principle.

"To be able to say there is agreement we need to know that each of Parliament, Council and Commission have agreed. I don’t know that all of Council, Parliament and Commission have been in the same room today," he said. "And if bilateral [talks] are happening, the Presidency will need to put any agreement to COREPER on Wednesday, which will not obviously get approved if position is different to the negotiating mandate."

Related article

Agreement reached on the EU audit reform

 

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