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6 Jan 2024

Frank Bold

Sector-specific sustainability reporting standards are instrumental for a pragmatic and cost-effective disclosure regime for companies

Following the reform of the EU legal reporting framework and the adoption of sector-agnostic sustainability standards (applicable to companies across all industries), the EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive requires the adoption of complementary sector-specific standards by 2024.

The EU Commission is now gathering views on a proposal to delay the adoption of these standards which will clarify the key issues companies within 20 high risk and high impact sectors need to report upon. Bringing clarity over what material topics preparers should focus on is instrumental for a straightforward and cost-effective sustainability reporting process that does not overburden companies.

Earlier this year, and against the technical advice submitted by EFRAG, the EU Commission removed the common core of mandatory disclosures from the draft sector-agnostic standards and made reporting on all ESG topics including climate change, biodiversity or own workforce subject to the materiality assessment of companies. This has significantly increased uncertainty for companies as well as for investors as users of sustainability information.

In the context of changes made to sector-agnostic standards, the need for sector-specific standards has only heightened. The development and adoption of these standards is now under risk of being deprioritised. The EU Commission is formally asking the European Parliament and the Council to change the law and postpone its obligation to adopt these standards until 2026 (meaning this information would not be available until 2028 at the earliest, and potentially for a very limited number of high-risk sectors)...