Europe Mulls PCAOB-Like Body

Looking for ways to raise the bar on auditor oversight across Europe, the European Union is considering the development of a European Coordination Auditing Oversight Board (ECAOB), according to today's Financial Times.

The Federation des Experts Comptables Europeens (FEE), the accounting profession's European representative body, is driving the effort to create an oversight board for the European Union's 15 member states.

"At regular intervals, the ECAOB should review the effectiveness of member states' . . . oversight systems. The results of the review should be reported to the European Commission and published at regular intervals. Recommendations for any necessary improvement should be made on this occasion," the FEE said in a statement.

Such a board would raise the level of coordination between countries and provide a forum for exchange of information on best practices in auditing in Europe.

More importantly, an ECAOB organization may also thwart efforts of the U.S. regulator, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, from scrutinizing auditors in Europe who are involved with audits of U.S. listed companies. The authority of the PCAOB outside the United States has been a point of contention for months as the U.S. regulator seeks to set the bar for auditors and ensure that everyone is in compliance. Non-U.S. regulatory bodies have complained about threats to sovereignty and have been very vocal in their desire to cooperate but not be subject to the regulations of the U.S. board.

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