Reporting obligation

Companies listed on a regulated market within the European Economic Area (EEA), credit institutions, insurance companies and winding-up bodies ("public-interest entities") of a certain size are required to publish an annual statement on, among other things, the environmental, social, anti-corruption and human rights impacts of their activities. In addition, listed companies must publish a diversity statement.

These requirements, which result from European Directive 2014/95/EU implemented by a Belgian act of 11 September 2017, apply in particular to companies whose financial instruments, including not only shares but also bonds, are listed on a regulated market within the EEA and which have a balance sheet total of EUR 17 million, a turnover of EUR 34 million and 500 employees.

Sampling

The FSMA study published on 26 March 2019 covers the statements published by 56 of the 57 companies issuing shares or bonds listed on 1 November 2018 on a regulated market supervised by the FSMA and required to prepare a non-financial statement (one of the companies considered itself exempt because its parent company published a consolidated statement). Of these 56 issuers, 14 are BEL 20 companies, 36 are in the continuous segment and four are in the fixing market.

Results of the study

The study shows that about 65% of these companies include the statement in the annual financial report, and about 35% in a separate report.

About 70% of the statements are based on the international Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) reference framework. In addition, about 40% of the statements are based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and about 25% on the United Nations Global Compact.

30% of the non financial statements include a description of the activities.

In some reports, the study notes shortcomings in the description of internal policies, mainly on social issues, respect for human rights and the fight against corruption. 

According to the study, there is too little relevant information in some risk management reports and key performance indicators.

In most cases, the statutory auditor's mandatory report also covers the non-financial statement (verification of the existence of the required information and consistency with the annual accounts). In addition, nine out of the total of 56 non-financial statements analysed are the subject of an additional assurance engagement on a voluntary basis.

The results of the study lead to recommendations on developing the internal policies of the issuers concerned, as well as their risk management mechanisms, particularly regarding social aspects and matters related to human rights and the fight against corruption.

You can consult the complete study by following this link.