Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy is visiting the US to discuss EU company filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and international accounting standards.
During his visit to New York and then Washington, from 19-22 April 2005, Mr McCreevy will aim to persuade US officials that a listing with the SEC should only be mandatory for EU companies with a significant US shareholding. At present EU companies must register with the SEC if they have more than 300 US shareholders and, once registered, must comply with corporate governance rules – highly expensive since the Sarbanes–Oxley Act. However, deregistration, EU companies have found, is very difficult. Corporate lobbyists want the threshold raised to 3,000 US shareholders.
The commissioner will also meet with Paul Volcker, chair of the International Accounting Standards Board, to discuss greater EU representation on the IASB (see EURACTIV 20 Jan 2005). He is also likely to seek similar increased representation on auditing standards with the International Accounting and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB).
Also on the agenda will be the mutual recognition of EU and US accounting standards. At present EU international financial reporting standards (IFRS) and the US generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) are not deemed equivalent and companies active on both sides of the Atlantic must prepare two sets of accounts. Mr McCreevy, speaking recently to the European Policy Centre, said he would like to do away with this “costly requirement”.