An unprecedented privatisation of mandatory standard-setting: the case of European accounting policy


Critical Perspectives on Accounting

mai 2009, vol. 20, n°4, pp.448-468

Départements : Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion, Droit et fiscalité

The EU-member States have long intended to harmonize their respective accounting rules in order to facilitate the comparison between European companies. This process was brutally accelerated by a 2002 regulation announcing that as of 2005, listed companies would be required to comply with the accounting standards enacted by the IASB (International Accounting Standards Board), a private body which, until then, had no public mandate. After having tried to harmonize internally the respective standards of its members, the EU has thus decided to resort to private subcontracting, an even more puzzling decision when one realizes that at the time, the EU had simply no statutory control means on the IASB. Building on this striking episode of privatization of the regulatory process, we first examine the structure and governance of the IASB, and the process leading to the transplantation of its norms into EU law. In a second part, we argue that while diverse, the reasons behind such relinquishment of public authority lie primarily within the EU itself. In a third part, we show that in the area of accounting, such transfer of competences went well beyond known forms of delegation to private sector. In a final part, we discuss the subsequent - and so far successful attempt of the EU to reassert its authority as well as its agenda in this area.*ACCOUNTING -- Standards*ACCOUNTING -- Law & legislation*ACCOUNTING methods*EUROPEAN Union