Pension associations call for EU's ESAP initiative to focus on sustainability first

PensionsEurope and the Dutch Pension Federation have published their responses to the European Commission’s consultation on establishing a European Single Access Point (ESAP), with both calling for the initiative to focus on sustainability first.

The EC’s questionnaire sought general and technical views on the way to establish an ESAP for companies’ financial and sustainable investment-related information. The establishment of the ESAP is the first action in the Commission’s new action plan on the capital markets union (CMU).

PensionsEurope believes that the ESAP should adopt a phased approach, firstly focusing on sustainability data. This is echoed by the Dutch Pension Federation which said the ESAP should first focus on high quality and comparable non-financial data, in particular sustainability data.

PensionsEurope said pension funds “increasingly want to incorporate sustainability considerations in investments, but at times face data constraints to invest in certain ESG factors”.

Moreover, the recently adopted Sustainable Finance Disclosures Regulation (SFDR) requires financial market participants to disclose sustainability-related data. This data is not always available or is available only at a significant cost, the association said. Therefore, it believes that the ESAP could address this challenge, in combination with the review of the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD).

"Once the ESAP is up and running, it could be extended to other areas. The Action Plan on the Capital Markets Union published in September 2020 referred in its first action to ‘an EU-wide platform (European single access point) that provides investors with seamless access to financial and sustainability-related company information’. For us, this means introducing a platform that investors can use to comply with the requirements e.g. set by the Disclosures Regulation. From our perspective, this should be the first and foremost objective of the ESAP,” PensionsEurope said in its response.

Providing its response, the Dutch Pension Federation said it could be useful to align ESAP with other similar international databases and repositories, like Edgar in the US.

“Aligning databases increases the harmonisation of data and increases access to data in other jurisdictions. Potential areas of alignment could be: 1) definition of data fields and metrics; 2) data formats used; and 3) quality checks and assurance,” it stated.

In addition, it said the ESAP should benefit investors as well as investee companies (once their company information has been disclosed in the ESAP).

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