In an open letter to European Commission Deputy Director-General John Berrigan, six of Europe’s prominent financial associations called for the creation of a centralized electronic register for Environmental, Social and Governance data in the EU.

The associations are the European Association of Co-operative Banks (EACB), the European Banking Federation (EBF), the European Fund and Asset Management Association (EFAMA), European Savings and Retail Banking Group (ESBG), Insurance Europe, and PensionsEurope. As representatives of the financial sector in the EU, the six expressed their commitment to supporting the transition to a more sustainable economy and to tackling climate change, and to the EU objective of transforming Europe into the first climate-neutral continent in the world by 2050.

Recent regulatory developments in the EU have made the need for centralized, consistent data particularly urgent. Financial market participants in the EU will be required to meet new sustainability-related disclosure obligations, which will require them to have access to comparable robust and reliable ESG data at the company level. Additionally, the associations note that Robust, comparable and reliable ESG data will also be key in identifying and assessing sustainability risks in lending activities.

According to the signatories, however, the current availability of quality, comparable, reliable and public ESG data is rather limited and insufficient to comply with the increasing expectations and new regulatory requirements due to apply shortly. The associations cite difficulties in comparability and reliability of available data, as well as the high cost and fragmentation of third-party ESG data.

Noting that a common European Green Deal dataspace to support the Green Deal priorities is already envisaged in the EU data strategy, the letter encourages the European Commission to fit the proposal for a centralized electronic European ESG data register into this strategy.

The associations suggest that as a first building block, the European data register should focus on ESG disclosure in line with the non-financial reporting directive (NFRD), EU taxonomy based information, starting with climate change adaptation and mitigation objectives, as well as ESG data necessary to financial market participants to comply with the sustainability disclosures Regulation (SFDR). They also suggest that the register should include relevant ESG information already collected by European and national institutions such as governments, central banks, and statistical bodies, and that data should be provided to users ideally free of charge.