An XBRL future for Europe? ESAP consultation draws 84% ESEF approval rating

Posted on March 26, 2021 by Editor

All 154 submissions to the European Commission consultation on the establishment of a European Single Access Point (ESAP) are now available to download, and we’re pleased to see a strong positive response in favour of using XBRL.

ESAP will bring together and provide access to business reporting data from across the EU. For those readers unfamiliar with the term {Ed – Why?}, think of it as an EU-wide EDGAR system. It makes sense for filings to be in a structured and machine readable format, making it as easy as possible to compare and analyse information – and it seems that the great majority of respondents agree.

The European Single Electronic Format (ESEF) is the Inline XBRL format currently of most interest and relevance to European public companies. It is now being deployed for financial reporting, with discussion growing about extending it to non-financial data as well. In answer to the question “Which of the following machine-readable formats would you find suitable?”, 120 submitters had an opinion on the ESEF format, involving XHTML files and Inline XBRL tagging requirements (i.e. they did not leave blank or answer “Don’t know, No opinion or Not applicable”). Of these, only 10 (8%) were negative, 9 were neutral, and a resounding 101 (84%) were positive, including 76 (63%) who believe that the ESEF format is “highly suitable” for ESAP.

It is worth noting that XBRL is moving away from its XML roots to support different formats for different reporting scenarios. The Open Information Model initiative permits the use of xBRL-JSON and xBRL-CSV, in addition to XHTML-based Inline XBRL and xBRL-XML. Of those respondents who gave an opinion, 74% were positive about the suitability of XML files, and 70% were positive about CSV files. With respect to Excel files, which while familiar do not offer the benefits of XBRL, opinion was more split, with 29% feeling negative about their suitability and only 54% positive.

With XBRL-based approaches offering much greater usefulness, relevance and competitive advantage for ESAP, and a clear favourite for stakeholders, we look forward to the Commission’s conclusions in due course.

Read more and download the responses here.

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