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Sustainable finance – EU taxonomy: A framework to facilitate sustainable investment

27-07-2020

In March 2018, the European Commission presented an action plan on sustainable finance, in order to facilitate investments in sustainable projects and assets across the EU. In May 2018, the Commission put forward a package of three proposals, including measures to create a sustainable taxonomy for the EU; provide clarity on how environmental, social and governance factors can be taken into account for investment decisions; and establish low-carbon benchmarks. The first proposal focuses on establishing ...

In March 2018, the European Commission presented an action plan on sustainable finance, in order to facilitate investments in sustainable projects and assets across the EU. In May 2018, the Commission put forward a package of three proposals, including measures to create a sustainable taxonomy for the EU; provide clarity on how environmental, social and governance factors can be taken into account for investment decisions; and establish low-carbon benchmarks. The first proposal focuses on establishing a common language for sustainable finance (e.g. a unified EU classification system, or taxonomy) through a framework of uniform criteria, as a way to determine whether a given economic activity is environmentally sustainable. On 11 March 2019, the ECON-ENVI joint committee adopted a report on the Commission proposal, calling for a number of changes. On 28 March 2019, the Parliament adopted its position at first reading. After interinstitutional negotiations, on 17 June 2020, the Parliament adopted the compromise text at second reading. The final act was published in the Official Journal on 22 June, and applies as of 12 July although certain provisions apply only as of January 2022 or January 2023. Third edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Connecting Europe Facility 2021-2027: Financing key EU infrastructure networks

17-06-2020

The EU supports the development of high-performing, sustainable and interconnected trans-European networks in the areas of transport, energy and digital infrastructure. It set up the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) as a dedicated financing instrument for the 2014-2020 period, to channel EU funding into the development of infrastructure networks, help eliminate market failures and attract further investment from the public and private sectors. Following a mid-term evaluation, the European Commission ...

The EU supports the development of high-performing, sustainable and interconnected trans-European networks in the areas of transport, energy and digital infrastructure. It set up the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) as a dedicated financing instrument for the 2014-2020 period, to channel EU funding into the development of infrastructure networks, help eliminate market failures and attract further investment from the public and private sectors. Following a mid-term evaluation, the European Commission proposed to renew the programme under the next long term EU budget. Negotiations between the Council and the European Parliament on the content of the proposal reached a partial provisional agreement, leaving aside the budget section and the questions relating to third countries. The agreement was approved by EU ambassadors and adopted by the Parliament at first reading on 17 April 2019. Discussions in the Council on the EU's 2021-2027 budget resumed when the Finnish Presidency of the Council published its ‘negotiating box’ in December 2019 and then with the proposal put forward in February 2020 by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel. However, Member States have not yet reached an agreement. In reaction to the coronavirus crisis and to the demand of the European Council, the Commission proposed an EU recovery fund and the adjusted Multiannual Financial Framework on 27 May 2020, also modifying the amounts to be allocated to the 2021-2027 CEF programme. Fourth edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Covered bonds – Issue and supervision, exposures

24-01-2020

Covered bonds are debt securities issued by credit institutions and secured by a pool of mortgage loans or credit towards the public sector. They are characterised further by the double protection offered to bondholders, the segregation of assets in their cover pool, over-collateralisation, and their strict supervisory frameworks. Currently, their issuance is concentrated in five Member States. National regulatory regimes vary widely in terms of supervision and composition of the cover pool. Lastly ...

Covered bonds are debt securities issued by credit institutions and secured by a pool of mortgage loans or credit towards the public sector. They are characterised further by the double protection offered to bondholders, the segregation of assets in their cover pool, over-collateralisation, and their strict supervisory frameworks. Currently, their issuance is concentrated in five Member States. National regulatory regimes vary widely in terms of supervision and composition of the cover pool. Lastly, despite benefiting from preferential treatment under the Capital Requirements Regulation (CRR), they share no common definition, which can lead to different securities benefiting from this treatment. To remedy this, the Commission has adopted proposals for, on the one hand, a directive, which would lay down investor protection rules and provide common definitions, and on the other, a regulation, which would amend the CRR with regard to covered bond exposures. Parliament voted in plenary on 18 April 2019 to adopt the texts agreed in trilogue. After linguistic corrections, Parliament approved corrigenda and the two acts were signed on 27 November 2019. Third edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Sustainable finance and benchmarks: Low-carbon benchmarks and positive-carbon-impact benchmarks

20-01-2020

In May 2018, the European Commission presented a package of measures on the financing of sustainable growth. The package includes three proposals aimed at establishing an EU taxonomy on sustainable economic activities, improving disclosure requirements and creating a new category of financial benchmarks to help investors measure the carbon footprint of their investments. Financial benchmarks have an important impact on investment flows. Many investors rely on them for creating investment products ...

In May 2018, the European Commission presented a package of measures on the financing of sustainable growth. The package includes three proposals aimed at establishing an EU taxonomy on sustainable economic activities, improving disclosure requirements and creating a new category of financial benchmarks to help investors measure the carbon footprint of their investments. Financial benchmarks have an important impact on investment flows. Many investors rely on them for creating investment products, measuring their performance and devising asset allocation strategies. The Commission proposes to create a new category of benchmarks comprising low-carbon and positive-carbon-impact benchmarks, by amending the Benchmark Regulation. As the regulation is directly applicable, amending it would restrict the possibility of divergent measures being taken by the competent authorities at national level. Parliament voted in plenary on 26 March 2019 to approve the compromise text agreed in trilogue negotiations. Following approval of a corrigendum by Parliament in October, the Council adopted the text on 8 November 2019. The final act was signed on 27 November 2019, published in the Official Journal on 9 December and entered into force the following day. Second edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Sustainable finance and disclosures: Bringing clarity to investors

15-01-2020

On 24 May 2018, the Commission published three proposals for regulations reflecting the EU's efforts to connect finance with its own sustainable development agenda. The proposals include measures to: create an EU sustainable finance taxonomy; make disclosures relating to sustainable investments and sustainability risks clearer; and establish low-carbon benchmarks. In particular, the proposal for a regulation on disclosures aims to integrate environmental, social and governance considerations into ...

On 24 May 2018, the Commission published three proposals for regulations reflecting the EU's efforts to connect finance with its own sustainable development agenda. The proposals include measures to: create an EU sustainable finance taxonomy; make disclosures relating to sustainable investments and sustainability risks clearer; and establish low-carbon benchmarks. In particular, the proposal for a regulation on disclosures aims to integrate environmental, social and governance considerations into the decision-making process of investors and asset managers. It also aims to increase the transparency duties of financial intermediaries towards final-investors, with regard to sustainability risks and sustainable investment targets. This should reduce investors' research costs as regards sustainable investments and enable easier comparison between sustainable financial products in the EU. Following agreement with the Council in trilogue, Parliament voted to adopt the agreed text at first reading on 18 April 2019. Because of the tight timeline for finalisation before the end of the parliamentary term, linguistic corrections to the voted text were needed. Under the corrigendum procedure, the ECON committee and subsequently the plenary endorsed the corrected text in October 2019, allowing the Council to adopt it at first reading. Signed on 27 November, the regulation entered into force on 29 December, and will become applicable as of March 2021. Second edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

An EU framework to facilitate investments in environmentally sustainable economic activities

12-04-2019

This initial appraisal assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's impact assessment accompanying its proposals for three regulations on: establishing a framework to facilitate sustainable investment disclosures relating to sustainable investments and sustainability risks; and on introducing two new categories of carbon benchmarks in the (benchmark) Regulation (EU) 2016/1011. The legislative package on sustainable finance deals with technical and inherently complex issues; ...

This initial appraisal assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's impact assessment accompanying its proposals for three regulations on: establishing a framework to facilitate sustainable investment disclosures relating to sustainable investments and sustainability risks; and on introducing two new categories of carbon benchmarks in the (benchmark) Regulation (EU) 2016/1011. The legislative package on sustainable finance deals with technical and inherently complex issues; it is therefore not surprising that the IA accompanying it reflects such a complexity, which is not always dealt with in a clear and immediately understandable way. This might also explain the double negative opinions, unusually followed in this case by a positive opinion with reservations issued by the Commission's Regulatory Scrutiny Board (RSB). The consequences of the two identified problems (lack of incentives to consider ESG factors and high search costs faced by end-investors), and how they would evolve without EU action, are described in a satisfactory way, as well as their underlying drivers. As required, the IA identifies general and specific objectives, but no operational objectives that would have informed about how the preferred options are expected to operate in practice. This is very likely due to the fact the operational aspects of the proposals are envisaged to be defined, and analytically developed, by subsequent delegated acts. The IA's preferred options are selected after considering both a non-legislative and a regulatory approach, although two of them contains some aspects that are not entirely clear. As regards its scope, the IA has only partially succeeded in explaining the impacts considered in an entirely satisfactory way. The IA does not include an analysis of competitiveness nor an analysis of impacts, if any, on SMEs. The evidence included in the IA provides ample and detailed insights into the issues considered and some methodological limitations, regarding the proposal on low carbon and positive carbon impact benchmarks are acknowledged in the IA. The Commission has consulted extensively a broad range of stakeholders, whose views have been satisfactorily reported in the IA or in a separate document containing the results of the second open public consultation. Overall, the IA appears to have addressed the majority of the improvements requested by the RSB. Finally, the legislative proposals seem to be consistent with the analysis carried out in the IA.

A framework to facilitate sustainable investment

20-03-2019

In May 2018, the Commission submitted a proposal to establish a common framework to facilitate sustainable investment. The proposal would launch a unified EU classification system to help determine whether an economic activity is environmentally sustainable. Under the Parliament's joint committee procedure, the ECON and ENVI committees have jointly adopted a report, expected to be voted in plenary in March.

In May 2018, the Commission submitted a proposal to establish a common framework to facilitate sustainable investment. The proposal would launch a unified EU classification system to help determine whether an economic activity is environmentally sustainable. Under the Parliament's joint committee procedure, the ECON and ENVI committees have jointly adopted a report, expected to be voted in plenary in March.

Environment action programme: Living well, within the limits of our planet

11-12-2018

The European Union (EU) has been protecting the environment since the early 1970s, under the premise that economic prosperity and environmental protection are interdependent. Successive environment action programmes have set the framework for EU environmental policy. The seventh environment action programme, a binding decision adopted by the European Parliament and Council in 2013, covers the period from 2014 to 2020. Bearing the title 'Living well, within the limits of our planet', it seeks to achieve ...

The European Union (EU) has been protecting the environment since the early 1970s, under the premise that economic prosperity and environmental protection are interdependent. Successive environment action programmes have set the framework for EU environmental policy. The seventh environment action programme, a binding decision adopted by the European Parliament and Council in 2013, covers the period from 2014 to 2020. Bearing the title 'Living well, within the limits of our planet', it seeks to achieve a 2050 vision for sustainability. The seventh environment action programme sets nine priority objectives: three 'thematic' objectives (on natural capital; on a resource-efficient, green and competitive low-carbon economy; and on health and well-being), four 'enabling' objectives (on implementation of EU law; on the knowledge and evidence base; on investments and externalities; and on policy coherence), and two 'horizontal' objectives (on cities; and on the international dimension). The three thematic objectives are linked to a large number of initiatives, legislative acts and international agreements. A 2017 report by the European Environment Agency sums up progress towards meeting the three thematic objectives as follows: on natural capital, the EU is not on track to meet the 2020 objectives; on a resource-efficient, green and competitive low-carbon economy, and on health and well-being, the 2020 outlook is mixed. The European Parliament is supportive of the action programme. In 2018, it urged the Commission and the Member States to step up its implementation. The European Commission is expected to publish its evaluation of the seventh environment action programme by mid-2019, and could subsequently put forward a proposal for an eighth environment action programme.

Establishing the Connecting Europe Facility 2021-2027

13-11-2018

This initial appraisal assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's impact assessment accompanying its proposal for establishing the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for the 2021-2027 period. CEF is an EU funding instrument designed to promote and part-finance the construction of pivotal cross border transport, energy and telecommunications infrastructure links between the EU's Member States. The proposal intends to support the achievement of the EU policy objectives in the ...

This initial appraisal assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's impact assessment accompanying its proposal for establishing the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for the 2021-2027 period. CEF is an EU funding instrument designed to promote and part-finance the construction of pivotal cross border transport, energy and telecommunications infrastructure links between the EU's Member States. The proposal intends to support the achievement of the EU policy objectives in the transport, energy and digital sectors as regards the trans-European networks and to support cross-border cooperation between Member States on renewables planning and deployment. The appraisal concludes that the impact assessment (IA) provides a good description of the policy challenges of the new CEF based on the mid-term evaluation of the programme. The IA envisages a change in the scope for the digital and energy sectors. Alternative options are identified for the energy sector only. The IA would have benefited from better illustrating if, and in case how, the preferred option would take advantage from the existing, or forthcoming, legislation in establishing the envisaged enabling framework for cross-border cooperation on renewables. The IA does not discuss social or environmental impacts of the proposed measures and economic impacts are discussed for the energy sector only. Potential impacts on SMEs are not discussed, although SMEs might have deserved some analysis considering the specific objectives of the trans-European networks for the digital sector. An analysis regarding the impact on competitiveness appears to be missing as well. The final version of the IA appears to have addressed almost entirely the improvements requested by the Regulatory Scrutiny Board.

Establishing the InvestEU programme

26-10-2018

Building on the Investment Plan for Europe, the Commission proposes to create the InvestEU programme, which would bring various existing EU financial instruments into a single structure. This would contribute to the cross-cutting MFF objectives (simplification, flexibility, synergies, coherence) and to the budgetary aim of ‘doing more with less’. This proposal, which would seek to mobilise public and private investments to reduce investment gaps, is based on the stakeholder consultation and different ...

Building on the Investment Plan for Europe, the Commission proposes to create the InvestEU programme, which would bring various existing EU financial instruments into a single structure. This would contribute to the cross-cutting MFF objectives (simplification, flexibility, synergies, coherence) and to the budgetary aim of ‘doing more with less’. This proposal, which would seek to mobilise public and private investments to reduce investment gaps, is based on the stakeholder consultation and different ex post evaluations of the programmes having relevancy for the InvestEU programme. The IA accompanying the proposal provides a thorough description of the challenges in investment, comprising both qualitative and quantitative elements, and links the proposed measures to the identified challenges. The IA discusses also risks and mitigating measures, although the risks and risk management could perhaps have elaborated in more detail. As regards alternative options, the IA discusses some options (implementing partners, organisation of governance, blending and combinations of the support) but does not provide an assessment and comparison of various options as is normally required under the better regulation guidelines. It would have benefited the analysis if the assessment of the expected competitiveness, economic, social and environmental impacts had been more elaborated as in this respect the IA is not very informative.

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