EC gives green light for single European electronic reporting format (ESEF)

As proposed in European Securities and Markets Authority’s (ESMA) Technical Regulation Standard (RTS), companies whose securities are traded on regulated markets within the EU must publish their annual reports for financial years beginning on or after 1 January 2020 in a European unified electronic format. While the European Commission sets the XHTML format for the human-readable form of electronic financial reports, the machine-readable form should be based on the XBRL format.

In December 2017, ESMA published the final draft of a Regulatory Technical Standard (RTS) for the implementation of the single European electronic reporting format. This draft was approved by the European Commission on 17 December 2018 with the publication of the relevant delegated regulation. As proposed in the RTS, the new ESEF rules are also to be applied to the financial statements for annual periods beginning on or after 1 January 2020, in accordance with the delegated regulation. However, both the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union can object to the European Commission's delegated regulation and object to its entry into force.

In summary, the application, the addressees and the gradual entry into force of the ESEF requirements are as follows:

  • Financial reporting through ESEF
  • Requirements are mandatory for capital market-oriented companies in the EU and companies whose securities are traded on regulated markets within the EU.
  • Automated and harmonised information for issuers, investors and regulators.
  • The decreed regulation adopted by the EU Commission on 17 December 2018 provides for a time-based staggering of the labelling through XBRL.

In summary, the application and the gradual entry into force of the ESEF requirements are as follows: 

Primary Financial statements







Balance sheet, overall results, free cash flow and cash flow statement as well as 10 basic information


Not required

Not required

Extended Financial statements



Text in appendix



Not required

Detailed labelling of the annexes





As proposed by ESMA, eXtensible HyperText Markup Language (XHTML) is intended to present electronic financial statements in a human readable format. For issuers who prepare consolidated financial statements in accordance with IFRS, the use of the eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) for the machine-readable presentation is analogous to the RTS. On this basis, analyses of financial information for issuers, lenders and supervisors are made possible.

The underlying ESEF taxonomy builds on the IFRS taxonomy developed by the IFRS Foundation, which has been developed specifically to identify information from IFRS financial statements and has global acceptance and application. According to Article 2 of the Regulation, the ESEF taxonomy consists of a basic taxonomy containing all taxonomy elements published by ESMA and an extension taxonomy comprising all elements added by the user.

For further details as well as technical and technical issues in the context of the ESEF regulations, please contact the below.

Learn more about ESEF

Learn more abourt XBRL

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