Sustainable Finance Lobbying Overview: The European Fund and Asset Management Association (EFAMA) is actively engaged in the EU on sustainable finance policy, while not supporting stringent regulatory intervention.
Top-line Messaging on Sustainable Finance Policy: EFAMA has stated support for the role of the finance industry in meeting EU climate goals. In comments on the European Commission consultation on the Renewed Sustainable Finance Strategy in 2020, EFAMA suggested policy should focus on positive action but not restrict negative action. Former president of EFAMA, Naïm Abou-Jaoudé, did state strong support for the Renewed Strategy during 2021. However, in feedback to the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) during 2023, EFAMA cautioned that in a regulatory approach to “greenwashing”, the ESAs should carefully consider the intentionality to mislead and should not include regulatory uncertainty or outdated data.
Position on Regulated Corporate ESG Disclosure: In 2020, EFAMA advocated for an ambitious update to the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD) in a joint statement to policymakers and in response to a European Commission consultation. In 2021, EFAMA reiterated its strong support for the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), the successor of the NFRD, however, it did urge legislators to consider the exclusion of financial products and a waiver for asset managers disclosing under other regulations. In response to the first set of European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS) being developed by EFRAG in 2022, EFAMA stated broad support but cautioned against some of the specifics on the disclosure standard requirements. However, EFAMA has been very critical of the Commission’s proposal for the ESRS during 2023, which introduced materiality self-assessment and more voluntary disclosures with respect to EFRAG’s draft, ultimately weakening the policy. In direct feedback to the Commission and in an industry joint letter, EFAMA advocated for making climate disclosures mandatory irrespective of the materiality assessment, and removing phase-ins for disclosures needed under the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR). During 2022, EFAMA has also been strongly supportive of an ambitious approach to the global sustainability standards developed by the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB), such as arguing for the inclusion of double materiality.
Position on Taxonomies: In 2018-20, EFAMA was particularly engaged on the taxonomy regulation, stating support for the policy but arguing that its use in disclosure requirements should be voluntary, that it should be only applicable to products marketed as sustainable rather than the whole market, and arguing for the weakening of thresholds that would define what investments can be considered sustainable. In consultation responses to the Commission in 2020, EFAMA opposed the creation of a taxonomy of environmentally harmful activities and appeared to support the weakening of the forestry criteria under the taxonomy. However, in a policy position and response to the Platform on Sustainable Finance in 2021, EFAMA supported the expansion of the taxonomy to cover transition activities but emphasized that the taxonomy should be supporting companies to transition and avoid blacklisting.
Position on ESG Standards, Labels & Benchmarks: In consultation responses in 2019, EFAMA argued for weaker exclusion thresholds for fossil fuels in the EU’s proposed labels for climate benchmarks. In consultation responses to the JRC in 2020, EFAMA argued for weaker green criteria and exclusion thresholds under the EU’s Ecolabel. In comments to the European Commission’s Renewed Strategy in 2020, EFAMA did not appear to support suggestions for new ESG labels or benchmarks. In feedback to the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) in 2022, EFAMA did not support efforts to introduce quantitative thresholds for fund names using ESG or sustainability-related terms, arguing that it goes beyond SFDR requirements and should be up to the co-legislators to introduce new rules.
Position on Integrating ESG into Investor Duties: In 2018-19, EFAMA argued for weaker regulation on the inclusion of ESG issues across a range of policies including MiFID II, Solvency II and IDD. EFAMA also supported a delay to regulation on disclosure of the integration of ESG issues into the investment process in a meeting with the Commission in 2019 and again in a letter to the Portuguese council presidency in 2020. In response to the Commission in 2020, EFAMA did not appear to support further action to incorporate adverse ESG impacts into fiduciary duty. In response to the ESA’s consultation on SFDR in 2020, EFAMA argued for a less prescriptive approach, including a reduced number of mandatory indicators. EFAMA stated a number of exceptions to changes proposed under the SFDR review published by the ESAs in 2023. It also stated strong concerns on the alignment between the SFDR and the ESRS, which it also included in feedback to the Commission, urging to either make all SFDR-relevant indicators mandatory under the ESRS, or for financial institutions to not be required to disclose non-material indicators under the ESRS.
Transparency: EFAMA is transparent about most of its positions on sustainable finance policies, with full details of activities to influence these policies. It is also fully transparent about its membership, including companies and individuals in the executive and key committees.