On the Road to Europe: Western Balkans Launches New Financial Reporting Program to Meet EU Standards and Stimulate Growth

May 27, 2015

VIENNA, May 27, 2015 ― Senior officials including deputy ministers of finance of six South East European countries* and senior representatives of the World Bank and the European Commission are meeting today and tomorrow in Vienna to take stock of financial reporting progress and to launch a new program. The Road to Europe: Program of Accounting Reform and Institutional Strengthening (EU-REPARIS) will support participating countries’ efforts to modernize their financial reporting systems and align them with the EU acquis communautaire.

“Restoring economic growth--and making that growth more inclusive by creating jobs and eliminating barriers to labor market participation--are the top priorities for the countries of the Western Balkans” said Ellen Goldstein, World Bank Country Director for South East Europe “Governments have a shared understanding that this requires a business environment conducive to investment. Transparent and accurate financial reporting is a pre-requisite for serious investors and improves access to credit for expansion and job creation.”

The EU has developed over the years a comprehensive legislative framework to protect investors and ensure adequate levels of transparency in the market. Corporate financial reporting is one element of this framework, and a building block of a well-functioning market economy. Trust in financial information can especially improve access to finance for small- and medium-enterprises (SMEs).

“As candidates or potential candidates for EU enlargement, the REPARIS countries have made significant progress in aligning their financial reporting frameworks with that of the EU.”said Henri Fortin, Head of the World Bank’s Centre for Financial Reporting Reform (CFRR).The new program will help them complete this process with a focus on SMEs which represent more than 99 percent of businesses in the region. We look forward to supporting countries in developing their accountancy professions and creating regulatory systems conducive to SME growth,"

EU-REPARIS is funded by the EU, managed by the CFFR, and implemented as part of the EU’s Western Balkans Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility (WB EDIF). It offers participating countries analysis and advice, learning and skill development, know-how and knowledge transfer, and technical assistance and institutional strengthening to help them effectively implement financial reporting reform.

Morten Jung, Head of Unit, Western Balkans Regional Cooperation and Programmes, DG Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations at the European Commission, offered participants his encouragement, “Your commitment to developing high quality corporate reporting systems contributes to ongoing closer association and economic integration with the EU, encourages private sector growth and SME development, and offers opportunities for investment and job creation.”

* Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, the FYR Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia.

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Reinhard Haslinger
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