Europe goes electronic: ESEF today, ESG tomorrow?

Posted on March 19, 2021 by Editor

The latest Eurofiling event, themed ‘ESEF today, ESG tomorrow,’ shared experiences of the European Single Electronic Format (ESEF) and looked ahead to the future of reporting in Europe: digital, comparable and wide in scope.

In her opening speech, Annemie Rombouts, Chair of the Corporate Reporting Standing Committee of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), observed that the first ESEF filings now being published represent a special moment – both the culmination of years of preparation and the start of a new paradigm.

ESEF brings improved accessibility and comparability of information, solving the “fundamental rupture” in communication between companies and report users. Truly easy and cheap or free access to all data from across Europe is still needed, and is set to be facilitated by the European Single Access Point (ESAP). Another interesting challenge is the learning curve not just for reporters but also for consumers of ESEF information, and the need for enabling software.

On the horizon lies the development of environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting standards, both for Europe and internationally. These fields too are great candidates for unified electronic reporting; ESMA advises that structured, machine-readable data would add significant value to ESG information.

“ESEF is a huge and very important first step, but many steps are still to be made,” says Rombouts. “My hope is that in five or ten years we will reach the overall objective of comparability not only of financial information but also key non-financial information of all listed companies, be they large or small. That would really be a revolution within the Capital Markets Union.”

To catch up on ESEF, we also recommend the talk from Anna Sciortino, ESMA Policy Officer, covering ESEF deferrals, ESMA’s activities and further prospects in digital reporting.

See the full agenda and read more here.

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