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McCreevy pledges accounting rule changes


BERLIN--Charlie McCreevy, European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, told European businesses there will be proposals to simplify accounting and reporting rules "within the next few days."

Mr. McCreevy told delegates at the 5th European Corporate Governance and Company Law Conference in Berlin on Thursday that the European Union must look critically at whether its existing rules for companies are still "fit for purpose."

He said the Commission is committed to cut red tape for business--particularly in the field of company law--and that it should revisit rules just as national member states do from time to time.

"It is right to pose the question whether the E.U. should not focus mainly on cross-border situations. Is there a real need for E.U. rules on domestic mergers? Is the cross-border dimension already adequately addressed in the 10th Company Law Directive on cross-border mergers? I am convinced we need to reduce the level of detail of our current rules, which stem from the 1970s and 1980s and are certainly showing their age," he said.

Mr. McCreevy said he sees a particular need to cut costs for small to medium-size businesses in accounting and auditing.

"Quality of accounting and auditing must be maintained, and even improved in the E.U. But the existing rules are often way too burdensome, especially for SMEs. I am sure we can cut red tape, without endangering our high standards," he said.

"Within the next few days, I will set out further more substantial ideas on how we can further simplify the business environment for European companies. The communication will form the basis for a thorough discussion, over the next few months, with the European Parliament, the member states and the stakeholders on the objectives and the scope of our simplification initiative. The Commission looks forward to working constructively with the Portuguese presidency in this area," Mr. McCreevy said.

"The Commission is taking very seriously its commitments on better regulation. We are really starting to 'walk the talk,' " he said.