Alliander's financial statements have been prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) as at 31 December 2016, as adopted by the European Union (EU), and the provisions of Title 9, Book 2 BW. IFRS consists of the IFRS standards as well as the International Accounting Standards issued by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the interpretations of IFRS and IAS standards issued by the IFRS Reporting Interpretations Committee (IFRIC) and the Standing Interpretations Committee (SIC), respectively.
The significant accounting policies used in the preparation of the consolidated financial statements are set out below. The historical cost convention applies. However, certain assets and liabilities, including derivatives, are measured at fair value. Unless stated otherwise, these accounting policies have been applied consistently to the years covered in these financial statements.
The preparation of financial statements requires the use of estimates and assumptions based on experience and considered appropriate by management given the specific circumstances. These estimates and assumptions have an impact on the carrying amounts and presentation of the reported assets and liabilities, the off-balance-sheet rights and obligations and the reported income and expenditure during the year. The actual outcomes may differ from the estimates and assumptions used. Note  to the financial statements gives further information on the areas and items in the financial statements where estimates and assumptions are used. Unless stated otherwise, all amounts reported in these financial statements are in millions of euros.
Unrealised profits on transactions between the Alliander group and its associates or joint ventures are eliminated pro rata according to the group's interest in the entity concerned. Unrealised losses are also eliminated, unless the transaction gives rise to the recognition of impairment losses. If appropriate, the accounting policies of associates and joint ventures are adjusted to ensure the consistent application of accounting policies throughout the Alliander group.
New and/or amended IFRS standards applicable in 2016
The IASB and the IFRIC have issued new and/or amended standards and interpretations which are applicable to Alliander with effect from the 2016 financial year. The standards and interpretations below have been endorsed by the European Union.
The amendment IFRS 11 dealing with 'Accounting for Acquisitions of Interests in Joint Operations' provides the specific guidance that, in the case of the acquisition of an interest in a joint operation, IFRS 3 Business Combinations applies if the joint operation is a business.
The amendments to IAS 16 and IAS 38 dealing with 'Clarification of Acceptable Methods of Depreciation and Amortisation' restate the existing rules relating to methods of depreciation and amortisation, annual review thereof and changes to the method used as a result. An important element is that the standard now explicitly prohibits the use of revenue-based methods.
The amendments to IAS 16 and IAS 41 dealing with 'Agriculture: Bearer Plants' make a distinction between accounting for bearer plants (IAS 16) and accounting for agricultural produce from bearer plants at the time of harvest (IAS 41).
The amendment to IAS 27 dealing with 'Equity Method in Separate Financial Statements' permits the use of the equity method for the separate financial statements under IFRS.
The 'Disclosure Initiative' (Amendments to IAS 1) gives guidance on the principle of materiality in IAS 1 Presentation of Financial Statements aimed at removing misunderstandings in relation to materiality and encouraging disclosures appropriate to the users of the information. New guidance is that an entity does not have to disclose information required by a specific IFRS if that information is not material. Also, the summary of the main accounting policies should be restricted to disclosing the more important policies applied.
The amendments to IFRS 10, IFRS 12 and IFRS 28 dealing with 'Investment Entities: Applying the Consolidation Exception' give further guidance on accounting for investment entities.
The above amendments do not affect the financial statements. In addition to these amendments, the 'Annual Improvements to the International Financial Reporting Standards 2012–2014 Cycle' resulted in corrections and minor amendments to a number of IFRS standards applicable to annual periods commencing on or after 1 January 2016. These amendments do not affect the present financial statements. Since these changes do not have a material impact on Alliander, they are not itemised here.
Expected changes in accounting policies
In addition to the above-mentioned new and amended standards, the IASB and the IFRIC have issued new and/or amended standards and/or interpretations in the period which will be applicable to Alliander in subsequent financial years. These standards and interpretations can only be applied if adopted by the European Union.
The following changes may be of relevance to Alliander.
IFRS 15 'Revenue from Contracts with Customers' replaces the existing standards IAS 11 'Construction Contracts' and IAS 18 'Revenue Recognition' on 1 January 2018. In essence, the proposals mean that contracts with customers are decomposed into the performance obligations. The recognition of related assets and obligations and the recognition of revenue will be derived from the specific transaction prices of those performance obligations. The disclosure requirements under IFRS 15 are considerable. In 2015, an implementation programme was initiated to assess contracts, services and supplies in terms of the new standard, to identify any changes in measurement and recognition and in required disclosures and to ascertain the impact this would have on the accounting and other systems. Considerable progress has already been made with phase 1 of the implementation process and confirms the expectation that the impact is minimal for the regulated activities and for the activities in the deregulated domain as regards both measurement of assets and liabilities and income recognition. Some changes to the accounting systems will, however, be required in order to meet the more extensive disclosure requirements.
IFRS 9 'Financial Instruments'. In July 2014, the IASB published the complete version of IFRS 9 'Financial Instruments', bringing together the various parts of the IASB project to replace IAS 39. It covers recognition and measurement, impairment and hedge accounting in relation to financial instruments and therefore replaces the requirements of IAS 39 almost entirely. IFRS 9 includes amended requirements for the recognition and measurement of financial assets. The classification of financial assets is related to the business model applicable to the assets and introduces a new category for certain instruments, viz. fair value through other comprehensive income (FVOCI). IFRS 9 includes a new impairment model for all financial instruments, based on the expected losses rather than actual losses, as under IAS 39. In the recognition and measurement of financial liabilities, the only difference concerns the treatment of changes in the credit risk of a liability that is recognised at fair value. The effect of changes in the credit risk of a liability is recognised in other comprehensive income (OCI). IFRS 9 also contains new requirements for hedge accounting, enabling an entity to reflect its risk management more accurately in the financial statements. IFRS 9 is applicable to reporting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2018. Alliander has relatively modest portfolios of financial instruments, as a result of which the impact will be limited; it is expected that the amended impairment methodology will have the greatest impact for Alliander. This will be mainly of a procedural nature and, as things stand, there will not be any material financial impact.
IFRS 16 'Leases'. The IASB published the new standard for leases on 13 January 2016. The implementation date is 1 January 2019. An important implication for Alliander as lessee in particular is that rights and obligations under operating leases will be included in the balance sheet. As disclosed in note , the existing operating lease obligations as at year-end 2016 amount €81 million, a substantial part of which will be recognised as lease assets (rights of use) and lease liabilities (rental obligations) on the face of the balance sheet under the new standard. The new standard does not affect the way in which the cross-border leases are accounted for, however.
The other future amendments to standards and interpretations that have been published are either not relevant to Alliander or do not have any material impact on Alliander and are therefore not considered in greater detail in these financial statements.