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Between soft and hard governance: The EU’s evolving sustainability reporting framework in an international context.

October 9, 2023 @ 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm


Room/Auditorium 4 (43 Boulevard du Jardin Botanique – Brussels)

With Laura Iozzelli (EUI School of Transnational Governance, Brussels School of Governance)


Laura Iozzelli is a Research Fellow at the School of Transnational Governance, European University Institute, and a Senior Associate Researcher at the BSoG Centre for Environment, Economy and Energy. She holds a joint-PhD in political science from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the Université Saint-Louis Bruxelles. Previously, she was a lecturer in international relations and EU Politics at Université Saint-Louis Bruxelles and assistant to project manager of the Jean Monnet Project GOVTRAN.

Abstract: As part of its strategy to strengthen the foundations for sustainable investment, enhance the transparency and accountability of the corporate sector and achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal, the European Union (EU) has developed an ambitious set of sustainability reporting rules. A key element of the EU’s disclosure framework is the recently adopted Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), designed to set the international ‘gold standard’ for defining companies’ sustainability reporting requirements. However, the EU is by no means the only actor operating in the arena of sustainability disclosure, given the array of international (voluntary) reporting standards attempting to influence the field.

Against this background, this article aims to unpack the specificities of the EU’s approach to corporate sustainability disclosure and to explore the extent to which EU rules align or clash with other international standard-setters. It does so in two steps. First, by tracing the evolution of the EU sustainability reporting framework, from a voluntary to a mandatory exercise. Second, by comparing and contrasting the new CSRD with two highly legitimate international standards, namely the Global Reporting Initiative and the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation. The analysis finds that the EU strives to shape the sustainability reporting regulatory arena by means of a ‘hybrid’ governance approach, combining stringent, mandatory elements with a rather flexible approach, highly responsive to stakeholders’ demands. In terms of harmonisation with other standards, the analysis unveils a rather contradictory scenario: on the one hand, the EU aims to ensure harmonisation and full interoperability. On the other hand, it pushes for a ‘unilateral’ framework at the risk of limited compatibility with existing reporting standards.

Registration here


October 9, 2023
1:30 pm - 3:30 pm