EC is seeking feedback, until January 15, 2021, for an initiative that would involve development of proposal for a directive/regulation for European Single Access Point, or ESAP, for financial and non-financial information publicly disclosed by companies (including financial statements and data on sustainable finance). The EC Capital Markets Union Action Plan of September 2020 proposes to improve access to such data by building a European single access point. The overall objective of the European single access point is to facilitate the flow and use of information to contribute to further integrating the European capital markets, to enable a more efficient allocation of capital across EU. EC plans a legislative proposal on this by the third quarter of 2021.
EU legislation in the financial services area requires companies to disclose a wide range of information to the public to increase the transparency and reduce asymmetry of information between company insiders and external investors. This data may have regard, among other aspects, to an entity’s financial performance, environmental, social, or governance matters, products and services provided. The lack of an integrated financial and non-financial company data management at the EU level is detrimental in many ways. By providing investors with a user-friendly, EU-wide mechanism to access information disclosed by companies, the European single access point would foster access to capital markets, including by small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs), and promote cross-border investments. The European single access point should reduce search and processing costs for users of company information, while avoiding disproportionate administrative costs for companies that are subject to disclosure obligations. The European single access point would bring about a key missing piece of the capital markets union and enable the following objectives to be achieved:
- Improve access to company data, including SME data, thus tackling an important barrier to SME investment. This should be seen in conjunction with actions to open data at national level, which will facilitate access to data disclosed by public bodies at national level
- Contribute to the harmonization and standardization of formats of information that companies disclose to the public, making such information easier to find, compare, and analyze
- Enable big data and services based on artificial intelligence and machine learning through the increased availability and use of machine-readable data.
To achieve these objectives, the services of EC will examine more specifically the governance models for data collection and dissemination, including management and funding of the platform. The services of EC will also examine the scope of the information made available through the European single access point, the specifications to be met to make information machine-readable, and ways to remove barriers to, or improve access, use, and reuse of, this information. The European single access point has the potential to support the EU climate and environmental objectives and the sustainable finance agenda by enabling a better access to non-financial and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) information. Including sustainability-related information in the scope of the European single access point can increase the visibility and comparability of companies’ activities (including SMEs when relevant) with regard to ESG criteria and to better capture sustainability-related risks and impact, thus contributing to more and better allocation of private investment to sustainable activities and projects.
Comment Due Date: January 15, 2021
Keywords: Europe, EU, Banking, Insurance, Securities, EU Single Access Point, Capital Markets Union, ESG, Sustainable Finance, ESAP, EC
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