Following the creation of the Authority of Accounting Standards (ANC – autorité des normes comptables) by the Ordinance of 22 January 2009, the Decree of 15 January 2010 defines its operational structure.
The implementation of the Autorité des normes comptables (ANC - Authority of Accounting Standards) consolidating the competences formely assigned to the CNC – Conseil national de la comptabilité (National Council of Accounting) and the l CRC – Conseil de règlementation comptable (Accounting Regulation Council), is an answer to the desire to create an authority in charge of participating in the elaboration of accounting standards. Formerly, the CNC was the consultative body within the Finance Ministry in charge of issuing opinions and recommendations on accounting principles in all sectors of the economy; and the CRC, the deciding body that adopted regulations, implemented international standards in France, and gave force of law to decisions of the CNC, by making them obligatory. Hereforth, the ANC combines the missions of these two bodies: it participates in the elaboration of accounting standards, both by emitting regulations defining rules applicable to moral and real persons subject to the rules of private accounting, and by the opinions it emits (i) on national legislative and regulatory documents, or (ii) in the framework of the procedure for establishing international accounting standards (Article 1 of the Ordinance of 22 January 2009).
In support of its missions, the ANC is composed of a college of sixteen members, including president Jérôme Haas, inaugurated on 20 January 2010; specialised commissions, and a consultative committee (Article 2 of the Ordinance of 22 January 2009). All these missions are confided in the College, which can however delegate some of its non-regulatory competences to specialised commissions. Thereby, the Decree of 15 January 2010 defines the nomenclature of these commissions: two special commissions in charge of examining propositions before they are submitted to the college were instituted, each led by a president, a vice president, and seven members nominated by the College: (i) the first, the ‘commission for private accounting standards’ (commission des normes comptables privées) in charge of examining regulatory propositions and opinions relating to domestic accounting, and (ii) the second, the ‘commission for international accounting standards’ (commission des normes comptables internationales), in charge of emitting opinions and position papers on the elaboration of international accounting standards. Moreover, the Decree defines the operations of the Consultative Committee, which is composed of 25 representatives from the economic and social fields, nominated for three-year terms. Therefore, only the regulatory powers of the ANC are exclusively attributed to the College, which cannot delegate it. Regulations adopted by the ANC are published in the Official Journal of the French Republic (Journal officiel de la république française) after having been approved by order of the Finance Minister, and only after the document has also been approved by the Justice and Budget Ministers.
In light of the influence of accounting standards in the financial crisis, a reform of accounting should not come as a surprise, and the creation of the ANC ratifies the propositions of the Lepetit Report, which recommended an evolution of the CNC from a consultative body to a regulator of accounting standards. This change in status reinforces not only the credibility and the representativeness of this regulator, but also organises a true account regulation in France, taking into account the tensions between the different norms currently in force on the international level, since a commission is specifically in charge of the international aspect of accounting standards.
However, what will be the practical influence of this reform? If the implementation of a single entity seems to be an adequate tool to guarantee the involvement of different parties, such as accounting professionals, companies, representatives of competent regulatory authorities, and the State, we do not yet know what impact this rapprochement will have in France. The economic importance of the United States, the influence and importance of the American market are indeed the factors that must be taken into account when thinking about accounting harmonization for businesses who are subject to economic imperatives that can motivate their choices. Consequently, the question of France’s weight in international debates remains secondary to that of financial markets, and this reform of accounting regulation is merely a first step in the right direction.