The European Council and Parliament agreed on Wednesday to grant a two-year delay for sector-specific standards proposed in its Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD).

The standards had already been drafted by the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG), a technical advisory body to the Commission, and were almost ready for publication. The EFRAG recommended postponing them for two years in October.

The delay will offer mining and fossil fuel companies more time to prepare for new sectorial rules relating to the bloc’s European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS). The new deadline for adopting the rules has now moved from this summer to June 2026, the Council said in a press statement.

Vincent Van Peteghem, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, said of the delay: “Boosting European competitiveness is a core pillar of the Belgian Presidency, and one way to achieve this objective is to reduce the administrative burden on companies. Today’s agreement limits reporting requirements to the minimum and gives companies time to implement the ESRS and prepare for the sectorial European Sustainability Reporting Standards.”

Just before the vote on Wednesday, 21 academics from 15 different universities wrote a letter of dissent to the European Commission expressing their concern with the postponement. They wrote: “This [delay] jeopardises not only the immediate benefits of sector standards for sustainable development and the financial sector but also deprives companies of guidance for their reporting obligation under the CSRD.”

They also urged the Commission to “opt for a timely adoption” of the ESRS, citing empirical evidence that suggests tighter reporting standards lead to tangible improvements in worker safety.

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By GlobalData

The EU’s ESRS aims to enforce transparent reporting on environmental, social and governance issues including climate change, biodiversity and human rights. When the standards were finalised last year, the EU said that reporting requirements would be phased in “over time” for different sectors, with the first coming into force last month.

The EU’s CSRD, in force since January last year, requires listed companies operating in the bloc to disclose information about the social and environmental risks associated with their activities.