Making concessions: Political, commercial and regulatory tensions in accounting for European roads PPPs

Anne Stafford, Basilio Acerete, Pam Stapleton

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Governments increasingly use private finance to fund roads infrastructure. In particular the European Commission has promoted the use of public private partnerships (PPPs) to deliver the projects forming the trans-European Network. This use of private finance raises important questions about how public monies and assets are accounted for. The paper examines, first, accounting in both public and private sectors for roads PPPs in Spain and the UK, countries which not only have considerable experience in the use of private finance for the provision of roads but also act as exemplars of a number of differences which may be significant from an international perspective in termsof financial reporting and economic outcomes. Second, it examines the tensions between national, European Union and international accounting pronouncements. Our findings suggest that the businessenvironment has influenced the development of accounting policy. In Spain a powerful toll sector presence within the legal framework has led to substantial variations, having real economic impact.In the UK, the accounting regulator has prevailed over political concerns. For European public sector accounting, conflict remains between political choice and technical accounting. These findings may have global relevance, as the adoption of international accounting pronouncements will not remove these conflicts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-493
Number of pages20
JournalAccounting and Business Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • IFRIC 12
  • Off-balance sheet accounting
  • Public private partnerships
  • Public sector accounting


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