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European Commission outlines rules for environmental reporting

The European Commission (EC) has set out plans to make large businesses publish the environmental impact of their operations in company reports.

The EC has said it will adopt a legislative proposal requiring companies of more than 500 employees to release information on environmental matters in their annual reports, alongside financial information.

Disclosing environmental information in annual reports is currently voluntary, and only around 10% of the largest EU companies currently chose to do so on a regular basis.

Internal market and services commissioner Michel Barnier (pictured) said that the move would improve the transparency of large companies on environmental and social issues.

He said: “This is about providing useful information for companies, investors and society at large - much demanded by the investor community.

“Companies that already publish information on their financial and non-financial performances take a longer term perspective in their decision-making. They have lower financing costs, attract and retain talented employees, and ultimately are more successful.”

He added: “This is important for Europe’s competitiveness and the creation of more jobs.”

Existing accounting legislation has been applied differently in different member states, according to the Commission.

The proposals follow consultation which started in November 2010. They will pass to the European Parliament and the European Council, made up of heads of state of member states, for negotiation and agreement on a final text.

Large companies will have also have to supply information on social and employee related issues, human rights, anti-corruption and diversity of board members.

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