McCreevy-Volcker fight goes another round

Internal market commissioner Charlie McCreevy will reignite his battle with accounting standard setters when he flies to the US next week, but his two-pronged mission will also see him challenge American regulators to ease the burdens on European companies.

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Despite receiving little encouragement in response to his demands for greater European representation on the International Accounting Standards Board and its board of trustees, McCreevy will meet with trustee chairman Paul Volcker in an attempt to resolve the long-running dispute.

He also signalled that his quest for changes to the governance of international standards setters was to spread beyond the current battle with the IASB and its trustees. McCreevy said that he would be raising similar governance issues with those responsible for overseeing US standards. The running of the International Accounting and Assurance Standards Board, which sets international standards on auditing, is also on his radar.

As part of the three-day visit from 19 April, he will also meet with regulators and politicians to hammer out a framework and timetable that would enable European companies to file IFRS accounts with the Securities and Exchange Commission without costly reconciliation to US GAAP.

‘We have to find a way to free businesses that are active on both sides of the Atlantic from the costly requirement to publish their accounts to both sets of rules,’ said McCreevy.

He added that the EC is expecting to make a decision on the equivalence of US GAAP to IFRS in the summer, when a technical report by the Committee of European Securities Regulators is due.

The delicate issue of company deregistration from the SEC will also be on the agenda. While McCreevy acknowledged the regulator’s intention to look into making the process easier, he said the commission was ‘committed to working hard with them to ensure these changes tackle the problem effectively’.

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