On December 18, 2017 the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) published its final report on its draft Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) on the European Single Electronic Format (ESEF). From January 1, 2020 ESEF will be used by all listed issuers to prepare their annual financial reports.
In 2013 the Transparency Directive was amended to include, amongst others, a requirement for issuers to prepare their annual financial reports in a single electronic reporting format. ESMA was assigned the responsibility of developing RTS to specify this electronic reporting format. The aims of the ESEF are to make reporting easier for issuers and to facilitate accessibility, analysis and comparability of annual financial reports.
RTS on ESEF
ESMA has published the following:
All relevant annual financial reports are to be prepared in XHMTL. This format can be opened with standard web browsers and can be prepared and displayed depending on the preferences of an individual issuer. Where an annual financial report contains IFRS consolidated financial statements, these are to be labelled with XBRL tags, making the labelled disclosures structured and machine-readable. This facilitates software-supported analysis and comparison of different reports. As XBRL taxonomies can contain labels in several languages, users will be able to compare numerical information in financial statements across issuers even though the issuers prepare their financial statements in different languages.
ESMA notes that, once implemented, ESEF could serve as a potential reference point for further EU wide initiatives to make company data more comparable, transparent and digitally accessible.
ESMA has since submitted its final report to the European Commission, which has three months to decide whether to endorse the RTS.
(ESMA, RTS on the European Single Electronic Format final report, 18.12.17)