UK accountants now second to none, says EC.

UK accountancy institutes have scored a victory after the EC Court of Auditors agreed to change its jobs policy to end the treatment of British accountants as ‘second class citizens’.

The institutes claimed the court’s policy of favouring graduates over qualified accountants discriminated against non-graduates with chartered accountancy qualifications.

But after protests from the ICAEW and ICAS, the court has signalled its next recruitment competition, to be held this summer, will accept accountancy qualifications as equivalent to university degrees. If the rule had remained unchanged, many past presidents of the UK institutes would not have been allowed to work in European institutions.

Julian Paleson, the ICAEW’s representative at its EU office, said: ‘We are delighted by the decision. This is a major shift.’ ICAS chief executive David Brew was more cautious. ‘I don’t want to be too joyful until we see the black on white, but it’s promising,’ he said.

The cross-channel spat began when a recruitment drive last year to fill a severe lack of auditors at the court led to its recruitment stance being revealed. Following the scandal after the exposure of financial weaknesses by whistleblower Paul van Buitenen, auditing and accounting have enjoyed a higher status in Brussels.

The appointment of Jules Muis – responsible for revamping the financial control system at the World Bank – as head of the European Union’s Internal Audit Service, is seen as another milestone.

Related reading