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.
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
- January 2024NEXT STEP - ESAP
Entry into force of the ESAP Regulation.
- 25 November 2021Legislative proposal - ESAP
- 21 April 2021Report - Corporate sustainability reporting
- 10 November 2020Communication - 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).
- 24 September 2020Action plan - Capital markets union
The Commission adopted a new capital markets union action plan in which action 1 aims to create a European single access point (ESAP).
- Text of the Transparency Directive (2004/109/EC)
- Summary of the legislation: Issuers of securities - more transparent information
Delegated and implementing acts
Transposition by EU Member States
The Transparency Directive was transposed by all EU Member states into their national law.
- Transposition history of the Transparency Directive by EU Member States
- ESMA questions and answers on the Transparency Directive
- ESMA practical guide on national rules on notifications of major holdings under the Transparency Directive drafted