The Euro­pean Union, a re­al­ity and an op­por­tu­nity for French char­tered ac­coun­tants and their clients

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ste­fan Petro­vski

Over time and through its evo­lu­tion the Euro­pean Union has in­creas­ingly be­come the new area for the de­vel­op­ment of French char­tered ac­coun­tants’ ac­tiv­i­ties. It af­fects and al­ters their pro­fes­sional lives as well as that of their firms and more gen­er­ally how the pro­fes­sion of char­tered ac­coun­tant func­tions in France and in other Euro­pean Mem­ber States. How do we un­der­stand the evo­lu­tion of a reg­u­lated pro­fes­sion fol­low­ing the es­tab­lish­ment of Euro­pean di­rec­tives im­pact­ing it? How do we best ad­van­tage and ac­com­pany our clients in this new eco­nomic area?

The con­struc­tion of the Euro­pean project has been long and wind­ing, born long be­fore the mid­dle of the 20th cen­tury but which only ac­tu­ally ma­te­ri­al­ized af­ter the World War II. The in­flu­ence of the Euro­pean Union, with its motto “United in Di­ver­sity”, has never been so in­flu­en­tial on our pro­fes­sional or per­sonal life, than since in­tro­duc­tion and adop­tion of the Euro cur­rency on 1 Jan­uary 2002.

The Euro­pean Union (EU) is the first eco­nomic power in the world, ahead of the United States, China and Ja­pan, with a 2014 GDP of 13 900 bil­lion con­stant Eu­ros. Five Euro­pean mem­ber states (Ger­many, United King­dom, France, Italy and Spain) are re­spon­si­ble for 71.4% of the EU’s GDP.

De­spite this, the Euro­pean Union is in the midst of an in­ter­nal cri­sis marked by a rise of Euroscep­ti­cism dur­ing the 2014 Euro­pean elec­tion cam­paigns where the EU of­ten served as a scape­goat for this cri­sis.

The im­ple­men­ta­tion of the “Ser­vices”, “Recog­ni­tion of pro­fes­sional qual­i­fi­ca­tions”, “Ac­count­ing” EU Di­rec­tives and their trans­po­si­tions into French law, have al­tered the reg­u­la­tory land­scape of French char­tered ac­coun­tants.

Should this be a source of con­cern or of op­por­tu­nity? Char­tered ac­coun­tants have cho­sen.

The im­pacts of EU leg­is­la­tion are neg­a­tive and pos­i­tive for Char­tered ac­coun­tants.

On one hand, they may feel com­pe­ti­tion from other Euro­pean char­tered ac­coun­tants fol­low­ing the recog­ni­tion of Euro­pean diplo­mas and the open­ing of their firms to out­side cap­i­tal fund­ing. This com­pe­ti­tion can cause a de­crease in the rates of ser­vices pro­vided to clients and an in­creased con­cen­tra­tion of firms at the ex­pense of smaller firms.

How­ever at the same time, with this new Euro­pean mar­ket, they may de­velop their ac­tiv­i­ties, leave the coun­try, in­crease their pro­fes­sional mo­bil­ity and be­come more in­tel­lec­tu­ally and cul­tur­ally di­verse, and no­tably be able to de­velop EU wide based firms or net­works. This Euro­pean open­ing al­lows the pro­fes­sion to di­ver­sify in or­der to bet­ter adapt to the glob­al­ized econ­omy of the 21st cen­tury.

Small and medium-sized com­pa­nies con­sti­tute the ma­jor­ity of Char­tered ac­coun­tant’s clients in the 28 EU mem­ber states. In 2013, the ma­jor­ity, 99.8%, of the com­pa­nies were in the non-fi­nance sec­tor of the mar­ket econ­omy, rep­re­sent­ing 21.6 mln com­pa­nies. They em­ployed 66.8% of Euro­pean em­ploy­ees, i.e. 88.8 mln peo­ple and con­trib­uted to 58.1% of value added at fac­tor cost, or 3 666 bln Eu­ros (28% of EU GDP). To of­fer the best as­sis­tance and ser­vices to clients in the EU, some adap­ta­tions are nec­es­sary and de­sir­able, among them: strength­en­ing or learn­ing other Euro­pean lan­guages and hav­ing a com­puter and dig­i­tal ecosys­tem that re­sem­bles that of the clients and their mar­kets. In fact, dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy has abol­ished Euro­pean bor­ders and dis­tances. Now is the time to seize this op­por­tu­nity! The com­bi­na­tion of ef­fec­tive and in­ex­pen­sive com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tems and easy air and train trans­porta­tion, make af­flu­ent and good Euro­pean mar­kets more and more ac­ces­si­ble to pro­fes­sion­als.

Thus, the ma­jor and “only” ob­sta­cles seem­ing to block Char­tered ac­coun­tants from ser­vic­ing SMEs in the EU are: so­cial law, tax law, na­tional lan­guages and psy­cho­log­i­cal bar­ri­ers which are all sur­mount­able as long as ac­count­ing pro­fes­sion­als are mo­ti­vated, have con­fi­dence in their abil­ity to open up to oth­ers, and view the Euro­pean Union as our com­mon liv­ing space and na­tional ter­ri­tory.

Once th­ese bar­ri­ers are over­come, every­thing be­comes sim­ple and pos­si­ble: Let’s go!

And thus, a French com­pany that sells in Ger­many will no longer be “ex­port­ing” but sim­ply trad­ing.

But one last ques­tion arises: How can we con­ceive of serv­ing a client in the Euro­pean Union, a Union which ac­tu­ally puts into ques­tion its very found­ing prin­ci­ples?

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