Brussels, 1 September 2010
The European Commission green lights the exchange of audit working papers with Australia and the United States of America
The European Commission has adopted today a decision recognising the adequacy of the auditor oversight authorities of Australia and the United States of America. Adequacy refers to the ability of a third country authority to fulfil the requirements set out in the EU's Statutory Audit Directive (2006/43/EC) and, in particular, its capacity to enter into reciprocal working arrangements with the EU Member States on the exchange of audit working papers or other relevant documents between competent authorities. This also covers the preservation of the confidentiality of any such documents that authorities from third countries may receive from EU Member States. The Commission decision will enable the exchange of audit working papers between the EU Member States' oversight authorities and their Australian and US counterparts. This will contribute to reinforcing international co-operation on audit oversight which will ultimately lead to increased investor protection.
Internal Market and Services Commissioner Michel Barnier said: "This decision will allow the co-operation of European auditor oversight bodies and their US and Australian counterparts in the supervision of global audit networks. The exchange of audit working papers is an important step in moving towards our ultimate objective of equivalent rules and mutual reliance on each other's audit oversight systems. "
As auditing has moved beyond national borders, international co-operation is necessary to ensure that high quality audits are carried out worldwide. Australia and the United States of America have expressed an interest in exchanging audit working papers with the EU Member States. The Commission decided that these countries fulfil the European requirements on reciprocal access to audit working papers, including the need to respect the confidential nature of the transferred documents.
Following the Commission decision, EU Member States can now conclude reciprocal bilateral agreements with Australia and the United States of America on the exchange of audit working papers.
To ensure that high quality audit services are provided globally, international coordination and co-operation are necessary between auditor regulators. European legislation provides for a framework for international co-operation and allows the European Commission to determine the countries with which Member States may co-operate in that context. In February 2010 the European Commission adopted a similar decision for the auditor oversight authorities of Canada, Japan and Switzerland (see IP/10/136). The Commission is committed to co-operate with its international partners on auditor oversight and may adopt similar decisions regarding the auditor oversight authorities of other countries in the future.