Brussels ‘not reporting on sustainability’

14 Jun 19

Brussels still fails to monitor how the European Union’s budget and policies contribute to sustainable development despite backing global targets.

Just two EU institutions and agencies currently publish sustainability reports, auditors in a major criticism of the European Commission’s approach have said. 

The shortcomings exist despite broad EU commitment to sustainability and to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, the European Court of Auditors noted, in a report out on Wednesday. 

“Citizens want and need reliable information on how the EU contributes to sustainable development in areas such as climate change,” said Eva Lindström, the member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the review.

“Given the EU’s commitment to the SDGs, we would expect the commission to be able to report on the results achieved.”

Through sustainability reporting – also called corporate social responsibility or non-financial reporting – organisations publish information about their economic, environmental and social impact, values and governance.

However, although the EU is committed to sustainability and implementing the SDGs – and requires certain large companies to report on sustainability – the European auditors wanted to know whether Brussels leads by example.

In their “rapid case review”, Reporting on sustainability: A stocktake of EU Institutions and Agencies, they concluded that the building blocks for meaningful sustainability reporting in the union are still not yet in place.

The commission does not report on or monitor how the EU budget and policies contribute to sustainable development and achieving the SDGs, the review says.

Moreover, it has not yet built sustainability into reporting on performance – largely due to the absence of a long-term strategy on sustainable development up to 2030.

While the statistics agency Eurostat already presents trends on the SDGs in the EU, the commission does not yet report on the contribution of the EU’s budget and policies towards the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The auditors note that the Commission has recently published a paper outlining scenarios for a sustainable Europe, but this does not include analysis of what more the EU needs to do in terms of budget, policy and legislation or present how spending programmes contribute towards implementing the SDGs.

  • Gavin O'Toole

    A freelance journalist. He has written six books about Latin America and taught the politics of the region at Queen Mary, University of London.

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