Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to shed light on the European Union’s (EU) latest regulatory principles for environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosures. It explains how some of the EU’s member states are ratifying the EU Commission’s directives on ESG reporting by introducing intelligent, substantive and reflexive regulations. Design/methodology/approach – Following a review of EU publications and relevant theoretical underpinnings, this paper reports on the EU member states’ national policies for ESG reporting and disclosures. Findings – The EU has recently revised a number of tools and instruments for the reporting of financial and non-financial information, including the EU’s modernisation directive, the EU’s directive on the disclosure of non-financial and diversity information, the EU Energy Efficiency Directive, the European pollutant release and transfer register, the EU emission trading scheme, the integrated pollution prevention and control directive, among others. Practical implications – Although all member states are transposing these new EU directives, to date, there are no specific requirements in relation to the type of non-financial indicators that can be included in annual reports. Moreover, there is a need for further empirical evidence that analyse how these regulations may (or may not) affect government entities and big corporations. Social implications – Several EU countries are integrating reporting frameworks that require the engagement of relevant stakeholders (including shareholders) to foster a constructive environment that may lead to continuous improvements in ESG disclosures. Originality/value – EU countries are opting for a mix of voluntary and mandatory measures that improve ESG disclosures in their respective jurisdictions. This contribution indicates that there is scope for national governments to give further guidance to civil society and corporate business to comply with the latest EU developments in ESG reporting. When European entities respond to regulatory pressures, they are also addressing ESG and economic deficits for the benefit of all stakeholders.
Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 5, 2015
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