IPSAS for European Union member states as starting points for EPSAS

Tobias Polzer, Christoph Reichard

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


The European Commission is pursuing an initiative to establish European Public SectorAccounting Standards (EPSAS) as a common mandatory set of rules for financial reporting of all memberstates of the European Union (EU). As a basis for developing EPSAS, the International Public SectorAccounting Standards (IPSAS) are being used. The purpose of this paper is to structure and analyze thediscussion around EPSAS, with particular emphasis on the arguments that were brought forward bygovernments and other stakeholders of various EU countries regarding the suitability of IPSAS.Drawing on several schools of thought in new institutional theory, howthe prevailing institutional contexts in countries influence the debates is explored. Empirically, this researchinvestigates the responses to a consultation on the suitability of IPSAS for EU member states and takes acloser look, via document analysis, at France and Germany as two critical cases.It is found that, first, the majority of arguments from respondents are framed in a rational choiceway. Second, skeptics of IPSAS tend to make arguments rather from positions closer to historical and/orsociological institutionalism.The paper illustrates that while technical matters around EPSASseem solvable, political, historical and cultural differences go deeper, and need to be addressed by changeagents. Regarding limitations of the research, first, the analysis concentrates on financial reporting and doesnot deal with the implications for more reliable and comparable national accounts in the context of theEuropean System of Accounts (ESA, 2010). Second, it is focused on debates in the context of the EPSASproposal, and there is a need for an evaluation after the changes have gone live. The study looks at a text genre that has so far received less attention in public sectoraccounting research: responses to consultations. The paper contributes to
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247 - 264
JournalInternational Journal of Public Sector Management
Issue number2/3
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 505027 Administrative studies

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