The adoption of international financial reporting standards across the European Union from 1st January 2005 is one of the biggest events in the accounting history. This is especially important after the capital markets were rocked by some big accounting frauds in recent years. In the first phase, 7000-plus listed European companies will have to implement new financial reporting standards from January 2005 (Fuller, Jan 2005).
When European Union moved towards one market across Europe, it faced the prospect of different financial reporting regimes across EU participants. To achieve true scale of financial integration, it has become necessary to adopt common financial reporting standards.
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In June 2002, the European Commission adopted a regulation requiring all listed EU companies in regulated markets to prepare their financial statements in accordance with International Accounting Standards (IAS) or International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). The regulation is applicable only on consolidated accounts and companies are free to choose their national GAAPs for subsidiaries and associate companies. The regulation came into force from January 2005.
Companies Act 1985 governs the use of UK GAAP by UK based companies. Similarly other EU states have their own laws for accounting standards. The EU states have now modified their national laws to include IFRS regulation to offer a common financial reporting standard. Companies Act 1985 (International Accounting Standards and Other Accounting Amendments) Regulations 2004 has extended the application, on a non-compulsory basis, of the EU IFRS regulation to all non-charitable organisations.
In the last quarter of previous century, the world economies have moved towards globalisation. Multinational companies are manufacturing and selling across the world and many of these firms are listed at foreign stock exchanges. Globalisation of markets and establishment of multinationals led to increased desire and awareness about international markets. This was soon followed by globalisation of financial markets which increased the value of understanding of international financial results and reporting formats. Rapid improvement in communication technologies and easy access through internet has further spread the profile of international investor. Now a day international investors are not limited to some portfolio managers in big banks. International investors are now as diverse as sophisticated equity manager to a small investor in a remote town. Investors too have diversified their portfolio by international equities and bonds. This rapid globalisation has fuelled the desire to have common international standards that could be understood and followed across nations.
The ever increasing network of investors has not only opened new financing sources to countries, it has also put some pressure on the financial regulatory authorities to design and improve their financial reporting systems in a manner that is easily understood by wider audiences.
The regulatory authorities have on one hand evolve the financial reporting system to match the ever increasing demands of international investors and on the other hand make sure that companies in their countries are not faced with sudden increase in time,
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