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24 April 2003

EU concerned about US audit registration step

Commissioner Frits Bolkestein regrets the decision by the US Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) to require European Union-based audit firms with US-listed clients to register with the PCAOB. He called for a moratorium of the registration of EU audit firms so that effective transatlantic and international solutions can be agreed. The PCAOB decision still needs to be considered by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Commissioner Bolkestein said « Registration of EU audit firms is unnecessary, burdensome and disproportionate because the EU has already equivalent systems in place that deal with registration, oversight and external quality assurance of auditors which are continuously being improved at EU and national level.

Following the requirements from the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the US Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) yesterday adopted final rules requiring registration of audit firms with the Board. These PCAOB rules will need approval by the SEC before becoming effective.

The PCAOB rules require the registration of US audit firms by October 2003 and foreign audit firms by May 2004. Failing this, it would be unlawful for audit firms to perform audit work in relation to issuers in the US, including some 280 EU companies with a dual listing in the US as well as the EU located major subsidiaries of US listed groups.

The Commission will soon come forward with a Communication on priorities for audit in the EU to continue and reinforce the Commission's initiatives on statutory audit over the last years. This Communication will be considered in parallel with a broader Communication on Corporate Governance which will provide the Commission's response to the Report of the EU High-level group of Company law experts (Winter Group) of November 2002».

Commission press release

© European Commission

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