1 Department of Accounting and Auditing, Copenhagen Business School2 Universidad de Zaragoza3 Durham University Business School
EPSAS versus IPSAS
The European Commission is working on several fronts to achieve the implementation of uniform and comparable accruals-based accounting practices for the European Union Member States and for all the sectors of General Government, that is, Central Government, State Government, Local Government and Social Security, considering that at the same time it can help ensure high quality statistics (European Commission, 2013a). In 2012 Eurostat issued a Public Consultation on the suitability of the IPSAS for EU Member States, later publishing the report “Towards implementing harmonised public sector accounting standards in Member States. The suitability of IPSAS for the Member States” (European Commission, 2013b). This report takes into account the Public Consultation on the suitability of the IPSAS for EU Member States. The European Commission (2013b, p. 8) considers that IPSASs cannot easily be implemented in EU Member States as they stand currently and that it is preferable to develop European Union Standards adapted to IPSAS (renaming them EPSAS). The objective of this paper is to carry out a historical analysis, identifying where and how the idea of EPSAS versus IPSAS has emerged. To this end, we examine the responses to the EU consultation paper and outline the key rhetorical arguments used by various respondents. We note the selectivity in the topics discussed, as well as limited participation in the responses, which raises concerns for the political legitimacy of the project. Our paper also highlights the dynamic process by which EPSAS is taking shape as a key trans-national standard across the EU.