Industries with high sustainability risks and impacts to get EU sector-specific standards adopted as soon as ready
EFRAG - the technical advisory body preparing the EU draft standards - started working on sector-specific standards in 2022 but paused in Spring 2023 by direct request of the EU Commission to prioritise other work on the implementation of the first set of sector-agnostic EU standards.
Although we regretted this decision, we welcome that Members of the European Parliament and Council negotiators further precised the mandate for the EU Commission to adopt eight of the sustainability standards “as soon as each is ready”, or at the latest by 2026.
As outlined by NGOs, business and financial leaders as well as academics, the development and adoption of sector-specific standards is instrumental to make the reporting exercise easier for companies, while ensuring meaningful and comparable information for investors.
This year, companies will start to apply the first set of sector-agnostic standards, which cover general disclosures on strategy, governance and business model as well as reporting of environmental, social and human rights topics. However, there are important and complex issues such as decarbonisation, biodiversity or human rights issues in the value chain that were left to be clarified in the sector-specific standards, as concrete impacts and methods differ from sector to sector.
Instead of relieving companies, unduly delaying sectoral standards will only reduce clarity for companies to deliver on their reporting. This is particularly true for companies that have never performed a materiality assessment or that will start reporting sustainability information for the first time. EFRAG and the European Commission must heed the legal mandate and work to swiftly finalise and adopt the sector-specific standards that already count with advanced drafts covering 8 priority industries with high sustainability impacts.
The agreement among EU co-legislators needs to be formally voted by the Council and EU Parliament, but is expected to be in place before the EU elections this year.
Partners of the Alliance for Corporate Transparency remain committed to the development of EU Sustainability Reporting Standards, including via direct contribution and engagement in EFRAG technical work.