A new review from the European Court of Auditors has identified significant flaws in sustainability reporting in the EU.
While the report acknowledges the EU’s ongoing commitment to promoting action on climate change and reaching the United Nations’ Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs), the Auditors highlight the fact that no mechanism exists for comprehensive reporting on either the EU’s overall progress towards increased levels of sustainability or the efficacy of specific policies and funding programmes. The Auditors note that while the European Investment Bank and the EU Intellectual Property Office have published comprehensive sustainability reports, ‘reporting by other [institutions] is piecemeal.’
Sustainability reporting, which is already practised by large companies under the EU’s own regulations, allows organisations to release information concerning their economic and environmental impact; as well as detailing their commitment to achieving sustainability and the strategies they have implemented to this end. The Auditors’ report showed that, while sustainability reporting is encouraged, the European Commission does not yet publish information about the progress of its budgetary and policy commitments on sustainability.
The Auditors identified four major recommendations to improve EU transparency on sustainable strategies:
- Boosting credibility by presenting reports to be audited;
- Developing an EU-wide strategy on the SDGs and sustainability as a whole for after 2020;
- Integrating sustainability measures into the EU’s budget and policy plans; and
- Promoting sustainability reporting across all Member States and institutions.
Eva Lindström, the Member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the report, said: “Citizens want and need reliable information on how the EU contributes to sustainable development in areas such as climate change. Given the EU’s commitment to the SDGs, we would expect the Commission to be able to report on the results achieved.”
Next Monday, 17 June, the Court of Auditors will host the EU’s first high level forum on sustainability reporting in Brussels.