Once upon a time, a few people got together and decided that we'd all be better off if businesses worldwide were all using one harmonious set of accounting rules. In 2001, when IASB took over as the main international standard-setting body for accounting rules, it ushered in the era of IFRS to be the gold standard of bestiest accounting rules the world over and it started evangelizing the good word to anyone that would listen for the last ten years or so.
The biggest non-believer that the IASB has been desperate to convert is the United States, who has been all, "we like our GAAP just the way it is," but allowed the FASB to smile and nod at the IASB, giving them the impression that everything that was hunky-dory and that eventually the SEC, who ultimately had to make the call on IFRS, would be on board. The IASB was really anxious for the U.S. to get on board so they hounded and hounded and then, in very anti-climatic fashion, the SEC issued its "Final Report" on the idea of global accounting standards where they gave no recommendation nor a timeline for adopting anything. It was about as clear of a GTFO statement as they could send to the IASB.
The IASB, and by extension the EU, has not taken this well and has resorted to making empty threats in the direction of the U.S. policy makers. But the SEC considers the matter closed, and has basically been screening the IASB's calls every since.
Clearly fed up with not getting to play quarterback, today, the IASB has taken matters into its own hands, and it's a pretty desperate attempt to remain relevant:
The IASB proposed on Thursday an Accounting Standards Advisory Forum comprising 12 members from across the world. The board currently relies on informal, bilateral contacts with scores of national accounting bodies for input into writing new rules but this has become unwieldy. "The answer is to establish a multilateral forum where representatives of the standard-setting community can come together with the IASB," said IASB Chairman Hans Hoogervorst.
That's right! They're creating a cool accounting club! But, as with all cool club, there are rules that must be followed. First, who allowed in:
Hoogervorst proposes giving Europe three seats, the same as for the Americas and for Asia-Oceania.
It would meet for just a day and a half, four times a year in London and, crucially, be chaired by the IASB.
Members would have to sign up to promoting a single set of global standards – code for no lobbying for national carve-outs – and respect the IASB's independence.
The IASB plan is in effect an opening gambit as national standard setters have already filed a counter proposal to the IASB that proposes a board with up to 20 seats and far greater parity between the IASB and national standard setters. "Our proposal is more comprehensive, precise, focused on the objective of partnership at all stages, not just a forum controlled by IASB staff," said Jerome Haas, president of the French accounting standards board ANC.