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Europe Leaves U.S. Out of Audit Oversight Deal

Global Glimpses | September 11, 2009

The European Commission has excluded the U.S. from a deal that will allow audit oversight bodies operating inside the European Union to share their working papers with professional supervisors in other countries.

The deal will allow European audit oversight bodies to share information with their peers in Canada, Japan, and Switzerland, but not those in the United States because, says the Commission, the country has not done enough to offer a reciprocal agreement.

In January, Charlie McCreevy, the European commissioner responsible for auditing, issued a draft deal on cooperation that did include the U.S. But he announced in February that he was removing the U.S. from the proposal because he wanted more time to ensure that the country's audit regulators were willing to cooperate with European authorities.

The Commission says it is still willing to include the United States in the deal it has now reached with Canada, Japan, and Switzerland, but only if it agrees to reciprocate.

The Commission says that with deals in place to share working papers, audit firms based outside the European Union would not have to be inspected by European public oversight bodies, as the EU bodies could rely on audit inspections carried out by their counterparts in a firm's home country. But in return, the Commission wants foreign oversight bodies to treat EU audit firms in the same way—their home-country supervision should mean they don't need to be regulated overseas.