The European Commission said that it might delay accepting U.S. accounting standards as being equivalent to those used in the European Union.

Business leaders have recommended that the commission should consider a set of major accounting rules outside the 25-nation block -- such as those in the United States -- as equivalent to the International Financial Reporting Standards that became mandatory for the EU's 8,000 listed firms nearly a year ago.

If equivalence is not granted, U.S. firms listed in the EU would have to file a second set of accounts under IFRS. The reconciliation process could cost up to $10 million annually for the 250 U.S. firms listed in the EU. The commission has to make a final decision by Jan. 1, 2007, because of new EU rules on transparency and the issuance of company prospectuses.

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