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Brussels, 23 September 2004

Commission shares experiences on the introduction of accrual accounting with professionals and academics

The European Commission, in collaboration with the European Federation of Accountants (FEE), is organising a one-day conference entitled ‘Accrual Accounting in the Public Sector – Progress and Achievements’, which will take place on 27 September 2004 in the Charlemagne building. The conference will bring together some 200 experts and professionals from the administrative, political, and academic fields across Europe to discuss the issues associated with the implementation of accruals accounting for public budgets. The conference will be structured around three workshops, discussing the development of accounting standards relevant for the public sector, the practical challenges in embedding accrual accounting in administrative procedures and existing IT systems, and the consolidation of all government accounts.

Budget Commissioner Michaele Schreyer will open the conference and present an overview and state of play of the Commission’s own project for the introduction of accrual accounting for the budgetary year 2005. She will stress that while there are currently no common accounting standards for the public sector in the European Union, the Commission's project which will comply with the international accounting standards for the public sector recently developed by the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) could help it become a leader in this field. The new accounting standards used by the Commission could in particular be of interest in the context of the development of a Stability and Growth Pact that would focus more on the long term liabilities of the public sector.

Other keynote speakers include Professors Rowan Jones of Birmingham University and Klaus Lüder of the Postgraduate School of Administrative Sciences, Speyer on the progress made in introducing accrual accounting in the public sector; Philippe Adhemar (Chair of International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) Public Sector Committee) on the development of specific international accounting standards for the public sector; and David Watkins (HM Treasury, UK), on the consolidation of all government accounts. Representatives from various Member States will present the experiences of introducing accrual accounting in their administrations: Czech Republic (Zdanak Safranek Ministry of Finance), France (Lionel Vareille, Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industry), and Spain ( Ministry of Economy and Finance ).

Note for the editors

In recent years, the modernisation of public management has become a major concern. Public sector accounting practices, traditionally oriented towards recording cash payments and revenues, should become a genuine management tool and make the government's or public organisation's financial situation more comprehensive.

The Commission is not the only public institutionin moving towards the adoption of accrual accounting principles. Some countries are also engaged in the same process and, encouraged by international bodies and organisations such as the OECD and IFAC, have begun to modernise their accounting systems over the past few years, switching from a cash-based to an accruals-based system.

The Commission launched a multiannual plan in 2000 for the modernisation of its accounting framework, which comprised:

  • undertaking a study on the establishment and presentation of the accounts of the EU delivered in mid-2000 by high-level experts on public accounting;
  • drawing up in June 2001, an action plan for modernisation, which was discussed with the Court of Auditors. The Court has welcomed the document orientations;
  • proposing in 2001 accrual accounting as obligation in the new Financial Regulation which was adopted by the legal authority in 2002;
  • introducing elements of accrual accounting in the presentation of the financial statements
  • calculating the economic outturn since 2000.
  • adopting an accounting and consolidation manual for all the Institutions;
  • analysing several Member States' experience (United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Spain, Netherlands);
  • adopting on 17 December 2002 a detailed action plan for the introduction of accrual accounting by 2005 (see IP/02/1904). This plan is near completion, and the Commission expects to make a successful transition to accrual accounting in January 2005.

Please register with Ms Virginie Jonet at
or 02-29.62397. Deadline for registration is Friday 24 September at noon.

Provisional programme for accrual accounting Conference
Monday 27 September

In collaboration with the FEE

27 September 2004
Welcome from Chair Caroline Mawhood
Keynote Speech: Michaele Schreyer, Budget Commissioner
Why Accrual Accounting: Professor Jones
Where are we now: Professor Lueder
Questions to Professors Jones and Lueder
Key Themes from Introducing Accrual Accounting (1): Standards for the public sector
30 minute talk – Philippe Adhemar (Chair of IFAC Public Sector Committee),
45 minute discussion with representatives from IFAC-PSC (Norbert Vogelpoth), Latvia (Gunta Medna, State Treasury), CIRAMAP (Professor Zambon), European Commission (Rosa Aldea Busquets)
Key Themes from Introducing Accrual Accounting (2): Implementation, including embedding in administrative procedures and IT solutions, also challenges and pitfalls of the transition to accruals
10 minute talks – representatives from Czech Republic (Zdanak Safranek Ministry of Finance), France (Lionel Vareille, Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industry) , Spain ( Ministry of Economy and Finance )
30 minute panel discussion
Key Themes from Introducing Accruals Accounting (3): Consolidation of Whole of Government Accounts
15 minute talk by David Watkins (HM Treasury, UK),
15 minute panel discussion
Summary by Chair Brian Gray
Closing Speech: David Devlin, FEE President
Conference close

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