Academic journal article European Research Studies

The Implications of the Accounting Harmonization Process on EU Countries: A Case Study of Greece and Romania

Academic journal article European Research Studies

The Implications of the Accounting Harmonization Process on EU Countries: A Case Study of Greece and Romania

Article excerpt

1. The International Accounting Systems: The purpose of the Accounting Systems' Classification

Classifying the international accounting systems is necessary for the next reasons:

* in order to understand to what extent the accounting systems of various countries are similar;

* in order to study the way of the accounting systems' evolution and future development;

* in order to understand the reasons for which some nations exert a dominant influence for the accounting area and others do not.

The cultural influences over the accounting systems were studied by various researchers in the domain according to which culture or better said the values shared by a society are also reflected in the accounting systems. The main variables by which these phenomena can be explained are:

a) the professional control versus the legal one;

b) uniformity versus flexibility;

c) prudence versus optimism;

d) confidentiality versus transparency;

a) Professional control and legal control

This variable represents the preference for a professional opinion and autoregulation of the profession more than to adhere to prescriptive legislative norms and legal controls.

On a world level, the accountants do their jobs in various ways, for example in the UK the concept of "true and fair view" depends highly on the accountant's opinion as an independent professional. In countries like France, Germany and Italy, the main role of the accountant is to apply detailed and prescriptive legislative norms.

The dimension, valence and authority of the accounting profession are, in general, directly proportional to the prevalence, in a certain accounting system, of the professional control.

b) Uniformity versus flexibility

This social value reflects the preference for uniformly applying the accounting procedure, for its consistency in time, than for flexibility in applying the norms, varying with the specific circumstances of each society.

For example, in France and Spain there is a unified accounts' plan on a national level, and the influence of the fiscal norms over the balance sheets is significant. In the UK and USA, in exchange, the conviction that flexibility is needed in applying the rules is more spread, translated as a greater attention for their inter-temporal comparison.

For example: the balance sheet format s regulated by law in many of the European countries and cannot be modified. But, in the UK and USA, there is no application standard form, but only a minimum respected content.

c) Prudence versus optimism

This variable reflects the preference for a prudent variable of the patrimonial elements' evaluation, which consists in confronting the future risks, instead of a more optimist and less adverse approach of the risks. It's about one of the most important characteristics of an accounting systems, because prudence is one of the most rooted and omnipresent fundamental principles.

The prudence principle varies a lot from country to country, passing from the prudential- connoted accounting systems (Japan, France, Germany, Switzerland) to the less prudent ones, such as USA, UK, and from certain points of view the northern countries.

Prudence seems to be tied to the capital markets' developments, the influence of the fiscal norms over the balance sheets and the various pressures exerted by the financial information users.

d) Confidentiality versus transparency

This variable reflects the preference for confidentiality and spreading the financial information only to the ones involved in the entity's management, instead of a more transparent approach of the accounting information spreading. The influence of the management over the quality and quantity of the supplied financial information is relevant. Confidentiality seems to be strongly connected to prudence, even if the last one seeks the patrimonial elements' evaluation and not of the supplied information. …

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