EC Report Calls IPSASs “Indisputable Reference” for Accrual-Based Public Sector Standards

Mar 08, 2013 | New York, New York | English

In its report issued this week, the European Commission found that International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSASs) “represent an indisputable reference for potential EU harmonized public sector accounts.”

The report highlights that harmonized accruals-based government accounting improves transparency, accountability and the comparability of financial reporting in the public sector. Furthermore, a Commission staff working document that accompanied it discusses the advantages of IPSASs, including that “transparency provided by high-quality accruals standards such as IPSASs also provides for better-informed capital markets, in which government financial activity plays a much greater role than is often acknowledged.”

Noting that the present financial crisis has demonstrated that the need to assure financial stability is common to all European Union (EU) countries, the report also states that because “government assets and liabilities are substantial in all EU countries, it is therefore important that they are effectively managed and that governments are accountable for this management to their citizens, their representatives, investors and other stakeholders.”  

Andreas Bergmann, chair of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB), welcomed the report, which proposes that almost half of the existing IPSASs could be implemented as European Public Sector Accounting Standards (EPSASs) with little or no adaptation.

Currently, 15 European Union (EU) Member States incorporate IPSASs to some extent, with nine of these having national standards based on or in line with IPSASs.

“The adoption of accrual accounting by EU Member States would represent a historic step in the direction of achieving governmental transparency and serving the public interest,” Bergmann said. “Developing high-quality accounting standards like the IPSASs will require a rigorous process to ensure the EPSASs are of the same caliber. The IPSASB offers the EU’s public sector accounting authorities its full cooperation and resources in producing, adopting, and implementing EPSASs.”

The European Commission’s report will be followed by a conference, “Towards Implementing European Public Sector Accounting Standards,” to be held May 29-30 in Brussels.

About the IPSASB
The IPSASB develops accounting standards and guidance for use by public sector entities. The structures and processes that support the operations of the IPSASB are facilitated by IFAC. The IPSASB receives support (both direct financial and in-kind) from the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, and the governments of Canada, China, New Zealand, and Switzerland.


About IFAC
IFAC is the global organization for the accountancy profession dedicated to serving the public interest by strengthening the profession and contributing to the development of strong international economies. IFAC is comprised of 173 members and associates in 129 countries and jurisdictions, representing approximately 2.5 million accountants in public practice, education, government service, industry, and commerce.




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