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Transparency requirements for listed companies

Under EU rules, issuers of securities on regulated markets must disclose certain key information to ensure transparency for investors.

What the EU is doing and why

Transparency of publicly traded companies’ activities is essential for the proper functioning of capital markets. Investors need reliable and timely information about the business performance and assets of the companies they invest in.

The EU has special reporting rules for issuers with securities admitted to trading on regulated markets. These are set out in the Transparency Directive, which was amended by Directive 2013/50/EU.

Issuers need to provide their annual financial reports in compliance with the European single electronic format (ESEF) which is based on the eXtensible HyperText Markup Language (XHTML) format. Where such reports contain consolidated financial statements in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), they should mark these up using inline eXtensible Business Reporting Language (iXBRL). The ESEF was set by Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/815.

Officially appointed mechanisms and the European single access point (ESAP)

The Transparency Directive requires each EU country to create a storage mechanism (officially appointed mechanism, OAM) for the central storage at national level of, and public access to the information disclosed by listed companies. The list of/access to the OAM are available on the website of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA).

OAMs are also tasked with feeding information into the European single access point (ESAP). The ESAP was set out in action 1 of the 2020 capital markets union action plan. By mid 2027, it will incorporate and make accessible to the public the information mandated to be disclosed to the public by the Transparency Directive, the Prospectus Regulation and the Short Selling Regulation.

Further information will be made accessible in two additional phases taking place at the beginning of 2028 and the beginning of 2030. Ultimately, the ESAP will allow for seamless, EU-wide access to information in relation to financial services and capital markets, to be disclosed by, for example, companies, credit institutions, insurance companies, funds, auditors, credit rating agencies or regulators, including across borders.

Policy making timeline

  1. 10 November 2020
    Communication - ESEF

    Commission interpretative Communication on the preparation, audit and publication of the financial statements included in the annual financial reports drawn-up in accordance with Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/815 on the European single electronic format (ESEF).

  2. 24 September 2020
    Action plan - Capital markets union

Relevant legislation