ACCA - The global body for professional accountants
With the move to a digital economy and the concomitant enhanced ease of cross-border transactions, free movement of services will be a growth area. In parallel, aspects such as the mutual recognition of professional qualifications are inextricably linked to the free movement of persons, and freedom of establishment. A consistent and light touch approach to the regulation of service provision is therefore key to both internal economic growth of the Union and its attractiveness as a forum for external business to invest. Some issues, such as consumer protection, will nevertheless need to be addressed in the field of accountancy and related legal and financial aspects of advice which may be given
—Sarah Hathaway, head of ACCA UK

The global accountancy body responded to the January 2014 Call for Evidence on the single market and the free movement of services review launched by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. It now takes note of the publication of the results

ACCA shares the views expressed by most respondents that the UK’s participation in the EU single market for services is mostly beneficial, outweighing by far some disadvantages linked with the fact that it does not always work perfectly and that improvement in some areas, such as implementation, may be required.

Sarah Hathaway, head of ACCA UK, says: 'The summer 2014 report shows that EU legislation is generally perceived as the best way to ensure a certain level playing field across Europe. It also indicates that business organisations are calling for greater integration in the single market, accompanied by the completion of the Digital Single Market and better implementation of EU body of law. ACCA concurs with these views. As with implementation of any strategic plans made at a high level, the transposition of the directives into the domestic legislation of each member state, and resultant administration, can lose some of the intended benefits, meanings and outcomes.'

'Another issue of concern in the EU legislative process is the tendency of impact assessments to be undertaken once at the very beginning of the process, but then not updated despite significant revisions to the proposals brought by various amendments. In many cases the changes to the proposals are so far reaching that they merit comparative revision of the impact assessment itself' Sarah Hathaway adds. 

The review reflects a number of the existing political tensions. Yet, if it acknowledges that some adjustments to the balance of competences may be required to meet the forthcoming challenges, it also states that economic analysis clearly shows that in general businesses have benefited from liberalisation in domestic service markets, and that any national legislation on services would not have been that dissimilar from the current EU regime. 

Sarah Hathaway explains : 'The UK’s relationship with the EU is sometimes complicated, but this is in part a reflection of the distinctive characteristics of the UK which make it a so important and valuable a member of the EU. The freedoms of its corporate and business laws - and their alignment with systems in other Anglophone nations around the world - can sometimes isolate it from the other EU Member States. But they are at the same time the foundation of its role as a global services centre and conduit for business and investment into the EU for the mutual benefit of all concerned. 

'With the move to a digital economy and the concomitant enhanced ease of cross-border transactions, free movement of services will be a growth area. In parallel, aspects such as the mutual recognition of professional qualifications are inextricably linked to the free movement of persons, and freedom of establishment. A consistent and light touch approach to the regulation of service provision is therefore key to both internal economic growth of the Union and its attractiveness as a forum for external business to invest. Some issues, such as consumer protection,  will nevertheless need to be addressed in the field of accountancy and related legal and financial aspects of advice which may be given,' Sarah Hathaway concludes. 

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For more information, please contact:

Cecile Bonino, ACCA Brussels
cecile.bonino@accaglobal.com
+32 (0) 2 286 11 37

Notes to Editors

  1. ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants. We aim to offer business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. 
  2. We support our 170,000 members and 436,000 students in 180 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. We work through a network of 91 offices and centres and more than 8,500 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through our public interest remit, we promote appropriate regulation of accounting and conduct relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence. 
  3. Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. We believe that accountants bring value to economies in all stages of development and seek to develop capacity in the profession and encourage the adoption of global standards. Our values are aligned to the needs of employers in all sectors and we ensure that through our qualifications, we prepare accountants for business. We seek to open up the profession to people of all backgrounds and remove artificial barriers, innovating our qualifications and delivery to meet the diverse needs of trainee professionals and their employers.