Welcome to the "Accounting and Statistics" web-site of Eurostat.
The website is mainly for statisticians and aims at:
This web-site is under continuous updating: please contact Claudia Junker for information on recent activities or for suggestions and comments.
The conclusions of the European Council in Lisbon in March 2000 led to the accelerated completion of the Single Market for Financial Services. A priority objective identified was the creation of common financial reporting standards.
The EU Commissions "EU Financial Reporting Strategy: the way forward" (June 2000) characterised these standards as "transparent, fully understood, properly audited and effectively enforced" and concluded that the International Accounting Standards (IAS) issued by the International Accounting Standards Board would become the EU-wide accounting system that the logic of the Single Market demands.
Within this context, several legal acts were adopted in the following years, the most relevant being the Council Regulation (1606/2002) "Application of International Accounting Standards". The IAS Regulation requires publicly traded companies to apply International Accounting Standards for the preparation of their consolidated financial statements, at the latest by 2005. Member States (MS) are left the options to permit or require:
publicly traded companies to prepare non-consolidated accounts in conformity with IAS
other companies to prepare their consolidated and/or non-consolidated accounts in conformity with IAS.
Other related legal acts have been adopted in order to increase coherence of the EU accounting rules with IAS principles: the section "Accounting" provides details on accounting issues.
The IAS regulation of 2002 has been further put into practice via Commission Regulation (EC) 1725/2003 in which the Commission endorses the existing IAS (except IAS 32 and 39 which were under review at the time). The Commission has officially endorsed IFRS 1 and will in the course of 2004 endorse further new standards. The IAS have been translated in all EU languages.
The newly developed standards are nowadays called International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). However most of the existing IAS remain in force. Througout this website both terms will be used.
Aims of the project
The introduction of IAS will affect several areas of official statistics: structural business statistics, national accounts, financial accounts, balance of payments, money and banking statistics being the most relevant. Other important areas include agriculture, environment, energy, information society, and innovation. All statistics related to economic activities of enterprises are involved.
Therefore in 2000, Eurostat has initiated work on Accounting and Statistics with four main aims:
To make sure that Eurostat and the European Statistical System (ESS) are prepared to handle any changes in EU statistics arising from the introduction of International Accounting Standards for EU listed companies in 2005, and associated changes in EU Accounting law.
To make sure that Eurostat and NSIs take the opportunities offered by the changes in EU accounting rules in order to promote the exploitation of administrative accounting sources wherever this is feasible, thus reducing the reporting requirements for enterprises.
To monitor future accounting developments (particularly new or amended IAS) and give early warning of changes likely to impact on EU statistics.
To make sure that ESS statisticians use all available opportunities to influence future accounting changes to promote the interests of EU statistics.
In working to meet these aims, Eurostat :
convenes a Task Force to discuss accounting issues and formulate future plans ;
maintains an "Accounting and Statistics" Focal Point group to coordinate work within Eurostat ;
ensures close liaison with Internal Market DG on current developments in accounting standards and allied legislation ;
engages in fact finding surveys with Member States :
cooperates with the European Central Bank (ECB) via a joint Steering Committee, established with the task of coordinating a strategy on issues related to Accounting and Statistics.
Studies and surveys
A preliminary assessment of the likely impact of new accounting standards on the statistical variables covered by EU Structural Business Survey was organised with FEE (December 2001).
In 2002, Eurostat asked the IAS office of KPMG to carry out an assessment of potential IAS impact for three statistical case studies: the SBS survey in the UK, a company account survey in the Netherlands and a part of a banking return dealing with financial headings in Belgium.
Eurostat conducted a survey in December 2002 on EEA and Acceding countries to investigate the latest developments in the adoption of IAS and in particular to ask if statisticians involved in national accounts (NA) and financial accounts (FA) had started to assess the potential impact of IAS on the national and financial accounts.
Eurostat conducted in 2003 a comparison between IAS and the European System of Accounts (ESA 95), distinguishing between financial and non-financial statistics
In June 2003 the ECB conducted a study on the impact of IAS on Money and Banking Statistics (MBS)
In September 2003 the ECB conducted a study on the impact of IAS on Balance of Payment (BOP) Statistics and the International Investment Position Statistics (IIP).
In February 2004 Eurostat completed a comprehensive comparison study between IAS and the characteristics in annexes 1 to 4 (characteristics concerning Industry, Construction, Services and Trade) of the Structural Business Statistics Regulation.
At the moment, it is very difficult to provide an assessment of the impact of EU accounting changes on European official statistics. The two main difficulties are:
The different national accounting traditions and the extent to which existing national business accounting practices already apply IAS or a similar set of standards.
The current links between accounting and statistics, which differ greatly between countries and statistical fields i.a. Structural Business Statistics (SBS), NA, FA, MBS and BOP.
1. Regarding accounting issues, it is important to note that there is a great degree of uncertainty at different levels, such as:
The ongoing process of revision and updating of the IAS by the International Accounting Standard Board.
The use of the options left by the Regulation to MSs on possible extensions to non-consolidated accounts and type of companies, which are not yet known. From investigations conducted so far it is known that throughout the enlarged EU, 13 MSs will permit or require the application of IAS to all companies. Three member states on the other hand will for the time being not allow IAS for individual accounts of non-listed companies (Austria, France and Spain). An overview table of the extension of IAS throughout the MS of the EEA can be found in paragraph 5.2 in the Accounting section of this website.
The possibilities left to some companies by national options.
2. The following sources have been recognised as main links between official statistics and business accounting:
Statistical surveys: a large volume of business statistics data is collected on survey forms sent by enterprises directly to NSIs. In some countries the nature of the accounting source for such data is made very clear (e.g. in France INSEE forms quote the precise Plan Comptable codes which are applicable), but in most others business are free to draw information from internal book and ledgers (even if statistical surveys are accompanied by notes explaining the required basis).
Tax files: in some MS tax files provide an important statistical source, and might themselves be affected by IAS changes.
Company accounts: Company accounts constitute an important statistical source for different types of statistics. They are either collected by sample survey or provided by the Central Balance Sheet Offices (CBSO). CBSOs exist in 9 MSs (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain). This holds also for other official depositories for company accounts, where these provide a source for statistical information (e.g. UK).
Banks: transaction files arising from the operation of EU Banks are used for a range of statistical purposes, in particular in some countries for balance of payments data, and will be subject to IAS and other accounting changes.
Summarising : the implementation of IAS will have an impact on statistics, even if at the moment this impact is not precisely measurable. It will vary across countries, statistical areas, types of companies and time. The increasing awareness and co-ordination of efforts at various levels will provide more precise information in the near future.
At the European level and for some statistical domains, explicit links exist between business accounting data and statistics (e.g. structural business statistics and money and banking statistics). These statistics will be sensitive to changes in accounting rules, with the following possible consequences:
Loss of comparability between listed and non-listed companies, as they could be subject to different accounting rules.
Breaks in time series.
During the various meetings and exchanges of opinions, some member states expressed their concerns on other possible consequences at national level.
As a remedy, double reporting could be asked by statistical institutions, which increases the burden for respondents.
OpportunitiesAt the same time, it emerges that the harmonisation of business accounting rules could represent an important opportunity for statisticians if :
a) the company accounts become a generalised statistical source. An action in this way was undertaken in the Structural Business Statistics regulation, where a great effort was made to develop the principle of "accounting linkage", in the sense that the majority of the statistical variables could be measured or approximated by business accounting data covered in the 4th directive; similar efforts could be envisaged for other statistical domains.
b) the business accounts are presented according to a common standardised format (electronic with standard reporting language). From this point of view, the use of XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language, an XML-based open standard for accounting reporting) is likely to become important to future work in the field of accounting and statistics. The IASB and XBRL international (a non-profit consortium of over 250 companies which develops XBRL) have developed a comprehensive IAS-XBRL taxonomy that models the primary financial statements to be used by commercial and industrial entities.
If these conditions were satisfied, official statistics could gain on two important aspects :
Increased quality of statistics (reliability, comparability, timeliness)
Reduction in reporting burden for the respondents.
When planning future activities, the following aspects emerging from the analysis carried out so far are to be considered:
Different statistical domains are concerned (Structural Business Statistics, National Accounts, Balance of Payments Statistics, Financial Accounts, Money and Banking Statistics being the most relevant).
The link between accounting and statistics varies across countries and follows different paths.
The options left to the countries by the IAS Regulation will probably create disparities of implementation.
The key roles are played by several central bodies like the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), the Accounting Regulatory Committee (ARC), the Committee on Monetary, Financial and Balance of Payments Statistics (CMFB) and the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG).
Therefore, Eurostat distinguishes the next activities into two strands: coordination activities and decentralised activities.
A central co-ordination role for the whole ESS is needed and should be played by Eurostat. This role covers:
Raising awareness in Member States, stimulating work and identifying the main areas for action both within the MS and at European level.
Channelling information to interested parties, through the continuous update of the "Accounting and Statistics" website and offering support to Working Parties in terms of information, papers, presentations, and links to accounting experts.
Reinforcing contacts with relevant Commission Services and other international accounting bodies. Making representations where necessary on behalf of the ESS.
Establishing an active coordination with the ECB on subjects of common interest. The CMFB Executive Body decided in October 2002 that ECB should focus on money and banking statistics, meanwhile Eurostat will concentrate more on Business Statistics, Financial Accounts, National Accounts and Balance of Payments. For Balance of Payment statistics, co-ordination with ECB is particularly important, as in the field of Foreign Direct Investments the responsibility is shared between Eurostat and ECB. Actions are co-ordinated through the joint participation to Working Groups and Task Forces, and the Eurostat-ECB « Accounting and Statistics Steering Group ».
Following-up with computer science experts on the work on XBRL. A feasibility study is currently being carried out by PWC into extracting economic statistical data from XBRL-reports produced by accounting software packages. Results are being expected by the end of September 2004.
Studying new opportunities for official statistics, even in the long term. In particular, the drafting of new statistical legal acts to try to exploit possibilities offered by IAS.
Carrying forward the debate (involving the CMFB, EFRAG, Task Force, CBSO, the competent Commission DGs ) on what statisticians can ask regarding future changes in IAS.
Investigating broader international aspects: the IASB and accounting authorities in Japan and US are working on a convergence project. The OECD and the UN/Economic Commission for Europe have an interest in this work and will be approached.
Decentralised activitiesMember States are requested to carry out individual studies on the national implementation of IAS and the consequent impact on their statistical systems. Within this context, it is necessary to conduct an analysis of how business accounting is related to the information requested at the Community level for the various domains.
Member States are asked to launch actions with the national relevant actors in order to benefit the most from the national implementation of IAS. Specific attention should be devoted to stressing the opportunities offered by the harmonisation of accounting rules, especially in terms of burden reduction of respondents.
In this respect the work of the Accounting ans Statistics Task Force can be mentioned. The task force meets twice annually and work is focused on :
1. Information Technology to support business reporting (XBRL) and proposition of a related European strategy. The team is investigating the feasibility of developing an XBRL taxonomy for statistical purposes and the feasibility of creating an EU-XBRL jurisdiction complementary to the national jurisdictions. Moreover, the team is in contact with software developers/vendors in relation with XBRL.
2. Specific quantitative studies on the impact of the introduction of IAS. The team is studying specific cases (sectors of industry, individual companies and institutions) in order to quantify the impact IAS will have on annual financial reports. Possible impact on related official statistics could also be assessed.
3. An investigation into which essential statistical needs should be retained by IAS. This team identifies and prioritises key statistical items that are not included in the IAS environment, or risk to be modified after the adoption of IAS. The team also monitors the developments at the IASB concerning
Reporting comprehensive income,
Accounting Standards for small and medium sized enterprises .
Accounting Standards relating to the treatment of financial instruments
The final goal is to propose a common position by European statisticians on requests to submit to the IASB. In July 2004 such a common statisticians' opinion has been forwarded for the first time to the IASB by the CMFB. It concerned an IASB exposure draft on the use of the Fair Value Option under IAS 39.