Despite the EU's commitment to sustainability and the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the European Commission does not report on or monitor how the EU budget and policies contribute to sustainable development and achieving the SDGs, according to a new review by the European Court of Auditors. The building blocks for meaningful sustainability reporting at EU level are largely not yet in place, say the auditors. The Commission has not yet built sustainability into reporting on performance, also due to absence of a long-term strategy on sustainable development up to 2030. Two EU institutions and agencies currently publish a sustainability report, while reporting by others is piecemeal.
Through sustainability reporting – also known as corporate social responsibility or non-financial reporting – an organisation publishes information about its economic, environmental and social impact. A sustainability report also presents its values and governance model, as well as demonstrating the link between its strategy and its commitment to a sustainable global economy.
The EU is committed to sustainability and implementing the SDGs. EU law requires certain large companies to report on sustainability, and they increasingly include the SDGs in their reports. The auditors examined whether the Commission leads by example in reporting on sustainable development and assessed whether pre-requisites such as a strategy with targets to report on are in place. They also checked whether other EU institutions publish sustainability reports.
“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."