06 October 2010

Amazing Europe - Don't you just love a great revolution?

Don't you just love a great revolution? The banners, the marching in the streets, the riots and sniff of teargas, the decapitations (well, I am in France), and yes of course, the incredible feeling that the old order is being swept away before your very eyes.

Sadly, the people who do the best revolutions, the Europeans, seem to be engaged in a terribly boring revolution. Non-the-less, an old order is being swept away before our eyes, and XBRL marches through the capital cities, sweeping away the forces of conservative (not political party) business reporting.

On September 21st, XBRL EU held a meeting in Paris. Not only was the meeting in Paris (already a good start), but the range of projects discussed, across countries and industries, was quite amazing. Some time ago I wrote about "Spain, the quiet achiever". I have to amend that to "Europe, the quiet revolutionaries".

Gilles Maguet, Director General of XBRL Europe, opened the session and gave a fascinating overview of the range of programs underway across Europe. He presented a slide (link) that shows projects by industry/category and by country. Certainly the table is not complete, but it is impressive to just how much is happening.

Probably the most impressive sector is the Business Register sector, in which 2.5 million companies across four countries are providing their accounts in XBRL. In France the filing is still paper based and the local Business Register (Infogreffe) is converting all the files in XBRL to put them at disposal of the consumers. The next step in France will be to allow companies to file directly in XBRL. In the UK, Companies House (the business register) is able to create XBRL versions of company records, and in the Netherlands the system remains voluntary under the SBR programme (formerly the NTP: Netherlands Taxonomy Project).

In the Revenue and Tax Filing sector, six countries have XBRL related projects underway, or discussions for future projects, with the UK's mandatory iXBRL program being the highest profile, coming into force in April 2011.

Then there is the Banking sector, with COREP-FINREP projects in place in most countries. In some countries, there are projects that go beyond COREP-FINREP.

The European Commission remains engaged in the discussions, and as has been seen on the XBRL-International mailing list, continues to be a topic for engagement. Four specific EU consultation documents specifically mention XBRL, and EU officials have officially participated in XBRL conferences.

The full set of presentations can be found here: http://www.xbrl.org/eu/20100921Paris/index.html


When I specifically highlighted the progress in Spain, I was only just scratching the surface of all the progress that is being made. Much, well most, driven by regulators, but the number of projects and the depth of engagement is really quite impressive. Congratulations to XBRL EU and each country jurisdiction for the projects. 

(I would like to thank Gilles Maguet for his assistance in ensuring that I have my facts right - but of course, any errors are mine alone)

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