Negotiations between legislators on the reform of accounting obligations are focusing primarily on the transparency of industry payments to governments. The two draft directives on annual financial statements - COM(2011)684 - and on the harmonisation of transparency obligations - COM(2011)683 - presented by the European Commission in October 2011 aim to reduce the administrative burden and improve the comparability and clarity of corporate financial statements in the EU.

Nonetheless, much of the debate is focused on the obligation for extractive industries (ore, oil and gas) and loggers of primary forests to disclose the amounts they pay to the governments of countries where they operate. Following the unanimous adoption of reports by Arlene McCarthy (S&D, UK) and Klaus-Heiner Lehne (EPP, Germany) in the European Parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI), on 18 September last year, MEPs, the Council and the Commission are now attempting to find common ground with a view to reaching a first-reading agreement.

The compromise amendment adopted by members of the JURI committee, which extends the transparency obligation to the telecoms, construction and banking sectors, as well as the extractive industries, was not welcomed by member states. Despite three months of three-way talks, many points of disagreement remain; these are centred on a derogation proposed by the Commission for...

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