Sven Giegold
Mitglied der Grünen/EFA-Fraktion im Europaparlament

Sprecher Europagruppe Grüne

Internationale Rechnungslegungstandards: Europaparlament fordert mehr Demokratie, Finanzmarktstabilität und Gemeinwohl

Der Ausschuss für Wirtschaft und Währung (ECON) des Europaparlaments hat am heutigen Dienstag über den Initiativbericht zur Bewertung der International Accounting Standards (IAS)-Verordnung und zur Tätigkeit von International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Stiftung, European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG) und Public Interest Oversight Board (PIOB) abgestimmt. Wir Grünen kritisieren seit langem die Finanzierung, Zusammensetzung und Ergebnisse der Standardsetzer. Nun hat sich das Europaparlament viele unserer Kritiken in einer richtungsweisenden Entscheidung zu eigen gemacht.

Seit 2005 müssen börsennotierte Unternehmen in Europa ihren Konzernabschluss nach IFRS aufstellen. Während im deutschen Handelsgesetzbuch (HGB) das Vorsichtsprinzip dominiert, stehen bei IFRS die Information von Investoren und die Bewertung von Vermögensgegenständen zu Zeitwerten im Vordergrund. Die Standards werden vom International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), einer privaten Organisation mit Sitz in London, entwickelt. In dieser Organisation setzen praktisch ausschließlich Wirtschaftsprüfer aus Großunternehmen die Regeln der Rechnungslegung, die dann für die gesamte Wirtschaft Gültigkeit erlangen. Innerhalb des IASB soll EFRAG, ebenfalls eine private Organisation mit Sitz in Brüssel, die europäischen Interessen vertreten. Um in der EU Gültigkeit zu erlangen, müssen die Standards ein Übernahmeverfahren der Kommission durchlaufen. Neue Standards kann das Europäische Parlament bislang nicht ändern, sondern nur ablehnen.

Der Initiativbericht verlangt eine stärkere Beteiligung des Europaparlaments bei der Standardsetzung, die weitere Demokratisierung der Standardsetzer IASB und EFRAG sowie die Ausrichtung der Standards an Gemeinwohl und Finanzstabilität. Der Beschluss im Wirtschafts- und Währungsausschuss (ECON) wurde mit breiter Mehrheit gefasst, muss jedoch noch im Plenum des Europaparlaments bestätigt werden. Die Zustimmung zu dieser ersten umfassenden Positionierung zur internationalen Rechnungslegung gilt als wegweisend für die Plenarentscheidung. Die heutige Abstimmung kommentiert Sven Giegold, finanz- und wirtschaftspolitischer Sprecher der Grünen/EFA-Fraktion im Europaparlament und Schattenberichterstatter:

 

“Die Botschaft der Abgeordneten ist eindeutig: Wir geben uns nicht mit dem Abnicken neuer Standards zufrieden. Das Europaparlament muss frühzeitig in den Prozess der Standardsetzung eingebunden werden. Wenn die EU den IASB zu 14% und EFRAG zu 60% finanziert, müssen beide Organisationen auch die europäischen Regeln für demokratische Legitimität, Transparenz, Rechenschaftspflicht und Integrität einhalten. Rechnungslegungsstandards sind ein öffentliches Gut. Deshalb dürfen in den Fachgremien nicht nur ehemalige Banker und Wirtschaftsprüfer sitzen, sondern es müssen auch kleine und mittelgroße Unternehmen, Verbraucherschutzverbände und Finanzministerien vertreten sein. Der Anteil an Frauen muss deutlich erhöht werden. Der Verwaltungsrat (Monitoring Board) der IFRS Stiftung darf nicht länger mit internen Problemen seine Zeit vergeuden, sondern muss konsequent die Ausrichtung der Standards am Gemeinwohl verfolgen. Das EU-Parlament sollte die Kandidaten für das Amt des EFRAG-Präsidenten vorab anhören können, analog zum Verfahren der Ernennung der EU-Kommission.

In der Finanzkrise 2007 wirkten die an Marktwerten orientierten IFRS als Brandbeschleuniger. Die EU-Kommission muss deshalb die Eignung einer prozyklischen Marktwertbewertung für die Finanzstabilität untersuchen, wie das der „de Larosière“-Bericht gefordert hatte. Genauso muss der IASB die Regeln zur außerbilanziellen Bilanzierung von Vermögensgegenständen und Verbindlichkeiten überprüfen. Noch immer enthalten Bilanzen nicht alle Risiken. Die Fokussierung auf für Investoren entscheidungsnützliche Informationen darf nicht zu Lasten des Vorsichtsprinzips gehen. Dazu gehört auch, dass Dividenden nur dann ausgeschüttet werden, wenn Gewinne bereits realisiert wurden. Die Kommission muss deshalb die Einhaltung der Kapitalerhaltungs- sowie der Bilanzierungsrichtlinie überprüfen.

Für die EU hatte der Maystadt-Bericht präzisiert, dass die Standards dem Gemeinwohl dienen müssen. Das heißt, sie dürfen nicht die Finanzstabilität gefährden und müssen der wirtschaftlichen Entwicklung der gesamten EU zuträglich sein. Die Kommission muss diese Bedingungen in der IAS-Verordnung als verbindliche Umsetzungskriterien festschreiben und bereits verabschiedete Standards falls nötig ändern. EFRAG muss seine Kapazitäten in der Folgenabschätzung deshalb deutlich hochfahren. Eine Ausweitung der IFRS auf klein- und mittelständische Unternehmen ist nur nach einer umfassenden Wirkungsanalyse denkbar und muss entsprechend des Prinzips der “besseren Rechtsetzung” vom Europaparlament eng begleitet werden. Der IASB muss wegkommen von der Kurzfristorientierung und darauf achten, dass neue Standards Langzeitinvestitionen nicht gefährden und verstärkt Risiken aus dem Klimawandel beleuchten.”

 

Den Entwurf des Initiativberichts finden Sie hier:

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+COMPARL+PE-575.121+01+DOC+PDF+V0//DE&language=DE

 

Die eingereichten Änderungsanträge finden Sie hier:

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//NONSGML+COMPARL+PE-578.642+01+DOC+PDF+V0//DE&language=DE

 

Den de Larosière-Bericht finden Sie hier:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/finances/docs/de_larosiere_report_en.pdf

 

Den Goulard-Bericht zur Rolle der EU in internationalen Organisationen finden Sie hier:

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+REPORT+A8-2016-0027+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN

 

Die IAS-Verordnung finden Sie hier:

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2002:243:0001:0004:de:PDF

 

Für Spezialist*innen die wichtigsten Forderungen des IFRS Initiativberichts im Einzelnen:

 

Summary of the most important points in the initiative report on IAS evaluation and the activities of the IFRS Foundation, EFRAG and the PIOB as voted in ECON on 26 April 2016

Financial stability

– recalls that in its statement of 2 April 2009 the G20 called for reducing the complexity of accounting standards for financial instruments and for achieving clarity and consistency in the application of valuation standards internationally,

– whereas the G20 and the De Larosière report highlighted key issues with respect to accounting standards ahead of the crisis including, inter alia, off-balance sheet accounting, the pro-cyclicality related to the mark-to-market principle and of profit and loss recognition; the underestimation of risk accumulation during cyclical upturns and the lack of a common and transparent methodology for the valuation of illiquid and impaired assets; calls on the Commission to examine in detail whether the recommendation of the de Larosière Report were fully implemented, in particular recommendation number 4 which considers that a wider reflection on the mark-to-market principle is needed;

– is of the opinion that the off-balance sheet accounting issue has not yet been properly and effectively addressed as the decision on whether an asset has to be reported on balance sheets or not is still subject to a mechanistic rule which can be circumvented; calls on the IASB to correct these shortcomings

– welcomes the intention of the IASB to reintroduce the principle of ‘prudence’ and re-inforce ‘stewardship’ in the new Conceptual Framework; regrets that IASB’s interpretation of ‘prudence’ only means ‘prudent treatment of discretion’; notes that the IASB’s understanding of the principle of prudence and stewardship is not the same as what the ECJ jurisprudence and the Accounting Directive states; believes that the principle of ‘prudence’ should be accompanied by the principle of reliability; calls on the IASB to examine systematically whether a revised Conceptual Framework requires changes to existing accounting standards and make modifications where needed;

– calls on the Commission and EFRAG to examine the shift in pension asset allocation from equities to bonds as a result of the introduction of the mark-to-market accounting under IFRS;

– is concerned about the persisting complexity of the IFRS; calls for this complexity to be reduced whenever appropriate and possible when developing new accounting standards;

Governance of the IASB

– notes the dominance of private actors in the IASB; points out that medium-sized businesses are not represented at all; underlines that the IFRS Foundation continues to rely on voluntary contributions, often from the private sector which may give rise to a risk of conflicts of interests;

– whereas the European Union contributes around 14% to the budget of the IFRS Foundation and therefore is the largest financial contributor; whereas the involvement of the European Parliament in the standard setting process is not sufficient and is not commensurate with the EU budget financial contribution to the IFRS Foundation;

– calls on the Commission to urge the IFRS Foundation to aim for a more diversified and balanced financing structure also based on fees and public sources;

– recalls its request made in the Goulard report for enhancing democratic legitimacy, transparency, accountability and integrity which, inter alia, concern public access to documents, open dialogue with diverse stakeholders, the establishment of mandatory transparency registers and rules on transparency of lobby meetings as well as internal rules, in particular prevention of conflict of interests

– supports the Commission recommendations that the Monitoring Board of the IFRS Foundation should shift the focus of its attention from the issue of internal organisation to discussing matters of public interest that could be referred to the IFRS Foundation

– points out that IASB’s legitimacy is at stake if the Monitoring Board continues to disagree over its responsibility while depending on consensus decisions; supports a better integration of the IASB into the system of international financial institutions and efforts to ensure a broad representations (such as consumer representation agencies, finance ministries) of interests as well as public accountability ensuring high quality accounting standards

– supports the Commission in urging the IFRS Foundation to ensure that use of the IFRS and the existence of a permanent financial contribution are conditions for membership of the governing and monitoring bodies of the IFRS Foundation and of the IASB; calls on the Commission to explore ways to reform the IFRS Foundation and the IASB to end veto rights of members which do not fulfil the aforementioned criteria;

Endorsement process of IFRS in Europe

– takes the view that the scrutiny process for the adoption of IFRS in the EU should be formalized and structured by analogy to the scrutiny process applicable for  ‘level 2’ measures  in the field of financial services; recommends to the European authorities to invite civil society stakeholders to support their activities including at the EFRAG level; calls on the Commission to create a space for stakeholders to discuss fundamental principles of accounting in Europe;

– calls on the Commission to comply urgently to the Maystadt recommendation regarding expanding the ‘public good’ criterion – i.e. that accounting standards should neither jeopardise financial stability in the EU nor hinder the EU’s economic development –  and to ensure that this criterion will be fully respected during the endorsement process;

– calls on the Commission to put forward a proposal to implement Maystadt’s definition of the ‘public good’ criterion into the IAS Regulation; calls on the Commission, together with EFRAG, to examine systematically whether the ‘public good’ criterion as defined by Maystadt requires changes to existing accounting standards and then cooperate with the IASB and national and third-country standard setters to obtain wider support for modifications where needed

– calls on the Commission to remind EFRAG to strengthen its capacity to assess the impact of new accounting standards on financial stability with an explicit focus on European needs that should be introduced into the IASB’s standardisation earlier on in the process;

– calls for a more coordinated approach in developing new standards, including coordinated timelines for application in particular with regard to the implementation of IFRS 9 Financial Instruments and the new IFRS 4 Insurance contracts; urges the Commission to put forward diligently legal proposals with this respect  and to ensure that any delay does not result in misalignment or disruption of competition within the insurance industry

Governance of EFRAG

asks the Commission to take – as recommended in the Maystadt report – formal steps to encourage Member States that do not already have a National Funding Mechanism to establish one

– calls on the Commission to grant the European Parliament the possibility to receive a short list of EFRAG Board President candidates so as to organise informal hearings ahead of a vote on the retained candidate

– calls on EFRAG to extend the number of users, currently only one, in the Board and to ensure that all relevant stakeholders are represented in EFRAG

– calls on the Commission to assess the opportunity and possibility to transform EFRAG into a public agency

 

Sustainability

– supports in particular the Commission’s proposal to consider the reporting needs of investors with different investment time horizons and to provide specific solution in particular to long-term investors, when developing their standards; calls on the Commission to make sure that IFRS 9 serves the EU long-term investment strategy, especially by restricting provisions which could introduce excessive short-term volatility in financial statements

– welcomes the activities of the IFRS Foundation/IASB in carbon and climate reporting; is in particular of the opinion that key long-term structural issues such as the valuation of stranded carbon assets in undertakings’ balance sheets should be explicitly added to the IFRS working programme with a view of developing related standards; calls on the IFRS bodies to put the challenge of carbon reporting and carbon risks on their agenda.

Dividend distribution

– whereas an IFRS should not be contrary to the true and fair view principle as included in the Accounting Directive which requires that financial statements must give a ‘true and fair’ view of a company’s assets and liabilities, financial position and profit or loss; whereas dividends and bonuses should not be paid out of unrealized profits which ultimately means out of capital as Capital Maintenance Directive requires;

– notes that the Commission’s evaluation of the IAS Regulation has shown some evidence that differences in enforcement of IFRS persist between Member States; underlines that capital maintenance and dividend distribution rules have been cited in the report on the evaluation of the IAS Regulation as a source of legal challenges which can arise in certain jurisdictions where Member States permit or require the use of IFRS for individual annual financial statements on which distributable profits are based; points out that each Member State considers how to address such issues in their national legislation within the framework of the EU capital maintenance requirements;

– calls in that respect on the Commission to ensure compliance with the Capital Maintenance Directive and the Accounting Directive;

Accounting and tax fraud

– calls on EFRAG and the Commission to examine as soon as possible whether accounting standards allow tax fraud and tax avoidance and to make all necessary changes to correct and prevent potential abuse

 

IFRS for SMEs

 

– believes that as a condition to continue work in this field, the IFRS have to be less complex, must not promote pro-cyclicality and that SME interest should be sufficiently represented on the IASB; is convinced that the relevant stakeholders should be represented in the IASB; calls on the Commission to undertake a proper impact assessment on the effects of IFRS on SMEs before taking any further steps; requests that such an evolution should be carefully followed and the European Parliament fully informed taking into account the ‘better regulation’ process;

Gender balance

Calls on the IFRS Trustees, the IFRS Monitoring Board and the IASB to promote an appropriate gender balance within the respective forums;

Enforcement of IFRS

– deplores that several Member States do not comply and do not intend to comply with the ESMA guidelines on the enforcement of financial information; calls on these Member States to work towards compliance;

– calls on the Commission to assess whether ESMA’s powers make it possible to ensure consistent and coherent enforcement across the EU and if not to explore other ways to ensure proper application of enforcement

IFRS in the public sector

notes ongoing efforts for enhancing transparency and comparability of public accounts by developing European Public Sector Accounting Standards (EPSAS);

PIOB

calls on PIOB to re-enforce its efforts to ensure integrity in the audit profession;

Rubrik: Wirtschaft & Währung

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