EFAA | Latest From Brussels | March 2019 N° 4

EFAA Leads Debate on NFI for SMEs
EFAA hosted an event to debate on the role and value of Non-Financial Information (NFI) for SMEs and sustainability of SMEs in Brussels on 19 February 2019. The full news story is here. EFAA President Bodo Richardt started by illustrating the relevance of non-financial information (NFI) but also the challenges when regulation requires reporting about it. After the presentation of the EFAA Survey on NFI-Reporting Requirements for SMEs in Europe by Richard Martin, ACCA/Chair of the EFAA Accounting Expert Group, and EFAA Director Paul Thompson, an expert panel was formed to debate how best to stimulate sustainable behaviour by SMEs and what role NFI-reporting might play in this endeavour. Pictured, from left to right, are the panellists Bodo Richardt, Robin Jarvis (Brunel University), Wolf Klinz MEP, Philippe Lamberts MEP, Jonathan Labrey (IIRC) and Luc Hendrickx (SMEunited). The key message from the event was that while reporting of NFI by SMEs may be useful in promoting more sustainable behaviour by SMEs it must remain voluntary for SMEs. There are, however, more effective ways to encourage and support NFI reporting by SMEs, for example, providing guidance, finance, incentives, and other capacity building support to help SMEs become more sustainable. The event proved especially timely. On 30 January 2019 the European Commission issued the reflection paper "Towards a sustainable Europe by 2030" and on 20 February published a Consultation Document on the Update of the Guidelines on Non-financial Reporting. EFAA willrespond to the latter.
For more information: Please contact Sara Zambelli

EFAA Publishes Memorandum on the European Parliament Elections 2019 EFAA has published a Memorandum that sets out what EFAA believes should be the top 7 priorities for SMEs in the coming years and explains the role of both SMPs and EFAA in supporting SMEs and what EFAA specifically requests to be done by the EU. It covers important topics as (i) Promoting Entrepreneurialism, (ii) the Digital Transformation of SMEs, (iii) Access to Finance, (iv) Contribution of SMEs to a more Sustainable Economy, (v) Internationalisation of SMEs, and (vi) Implementation of the Single Market. Last but not least it addresses how to Shape Europe for SMEs and Shape SMEs for Europe. This Memorandum was written to inform Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and candidates in the upcoming elections in May 2019 about SME’s needs and to encourage MEPs and candidates to pursue them. This Memorandum was also written to support professionals in their discussion with candidates for the European Parliament and to form an opinion about positions of candidates. The associated news release is here. For more information: Please contact Sara Zambelli

SMEunited discusses Future EU SME Policy with Othmar Karas On 20 February 2019 President of the SME Intergroup MEP Othmar Karas (EPP) and SMEunited Secretary General Véronique Willems chaired a meeting of the different political groups to discuss future priorities for EU SME policy and determined that a responsible future EU SME policy has to (i) facilitate SMEs’ technological and ecological transition, (ii) ensure fairness and a level playing field for SMEs, (iii) ensure the implementation and enforcement of common rules, and (iv) provide equal access to markets and resources. These aims can only be achieved if policy makers not only talk but act in line with the interests of SMEs, as expressed in the SMEunited Memorandum for the European Elections 2019. For more information: Please contact Sara Zambelli

EFAA International Conference, 27 June 2019, Amsterdam: SAVE THE DATE The theme of EFAA’s 2019 Conference will be ‘Building a Digital Practice’ with a focus on the new professional services SMPs can now offer based on the latest digital tools and the steps needed to provide such services. The event will take place in Amsterdam on 27 June and will be hosted NBA, Nederlandse Beroepsorganisatie van Accountants – the Dutch professional association of accountants. Please mark this date in your calendar. For more information: Please contact Sara Zambelli

Developments in International Standard-Setting Hysen Cela, from EFAA member Albanian Institute of Authorized Chartered Auditors (IEKA), represented EFAA at the IESBA CAG and IAASB CAG meetings on 3-5 March 2019. The CAGs provide advice to the work of their respective boards which meet shortly. During February the IAASB issued an exposure draft seeking public comment by July 1, 2019 on three interrelated standards that address quality management – proposing significant changes to the way professional accountancy firms are expected to manage quality—for audits, reviews, and other assurance and related services engagements - and published a consultation paper on extended external reporting assurance. Meanwhile the IESBA has just released this video introducing the IESBA’s revised and restructured Code while the Professional Accountants in Ireland and Northern Ireland issued their Ethics Research Report. EFAA recently responded to the IAESB’s Proposed Revisions to IESs 2, 3, 4, and 8—Information and Communications Technologies and Professional Skepticism. Salvador Marin Hernandez, from EFAA member Consejo General de Economistas (CGE), represents EFAA on the IAESB CAG and helped develop our response. For more information: Please contact Paul Thompson

EFRAG High-Level Conference on Innovation in Corporate Reporting On 5 March 2019 EFAA Board member Carlos Menezes, from EFAA member Ordem dos Contabilistas Certificados (OCC), participated in the conference Fostering Innovation in Corporate Reporting, the first conference of EFRAG’s newly-formed European Corporate Reporting Lab@EFRAG (European Lab). Later this year the European Lab will launch a public consultation on its future agenda. Read more here. For more information: Please contact Paul Thompson

Update on Early Warning Europe Project On 5 March 2019 SMEunited hosted Early Warning Europe’s eighth Expert Network Meeting in Brussels to map further organisations taking care of preventive restructuring for entrepreneurs across Europe. EFAA was represented by Martin de Bie, from EFAA member Nederlandse Beroepsorganisatie van Accountants (NBA). Martin de Bie is Chair of EFAA’s Digital Working Group. Read more here. For more information: Please contact Paul Thompson

How do European SMPs Compare with SMPs Globally? The 2018 IFAC Global SMP Survey asked practitioners from small- and medium-sized practices (SMPs) across the globe about their challenges, with a close look at the impact of technology and talent issues. Of the 6,258 respondents some 40% were from Europe. This IFAC article provides a summary of the European results compared with the global picture and presents potential implications of the findings for SMPs and European professional accountancy organizations (PAOs). The article is also posted to EFAA’s website here. For more information: Please contact Paul Thompson

EU Decision-Making on Taxation Matters The Commission published its communication "Towards a more efficient and democratic decision making in EU tax policy" on 15 January 2019. The aim of the communication is for the Commission to start a debate on a progressive and targeted transition from unanimity voting to qualified majority voting (QMV) and use of the "ordinary legislative procedure" in certain areas of shared EU taxation policy. Ministers exchanged their views, some in favor of keeping the current balance of voting rules in taxation while others were open to looking at alternatives. For more information: Please contact Paul Thompson

Member Use, Feedback and Contributions Please share this newsletter with colleagues. Members are welcome to translate and reproduce extracts from this newsletter for their own communication purposes while acknowledging this newsletter as the source. The next issue is slated for late March 2019. We welcome feedback on how to improve this newsletter as well as contributions from our members, especially initiatives that other EFAA members might be keen to know about. Please contact Sara Zambelli / Paul Thompson

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