Frequently asked questions from controllers about sustainability

Was ist eigentlich die EU-Taxonomie und was bedeutet sie für das Controlling?

Dr. Marco Möhrer and Martin Momberg answer the most important questions

What exactly is the EU taxonomy?
Martin Momberg: 
The taxonomy is an EU-wide classification system for ecologically sustainable economic activities. It is intended to enable a uniform assessment of corporate activities with regard to their sustainability performance and thus support the transformation to a climate-neutral economy in Europe. In addition, it will play an important role in the distribution of European funding as part of the Green Deal. Only if the strict test criteria of the taxonomy are met can companies declare their activities as ecologically sustainable and thus report as "green" in the sense of the taxonomy. The taxonomy therefore has nothing to do with "taxation" - i.e. taxes - but forms a binding standard framework for sustainability reporting by companies.

Why is the EU taxonomy so important for controllers?
Marco Möhrer:
Martin has already mentioned a key point. The taxonomy is a regulatory requirement of the European Union. In the future, it should serve as a basis for companies to report on ecological sustainability aspects. Capital market-oriented companies that are currently subject to the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD) have been obliged to report on their taxonomy-relevant economic activities since this year. Since 2024, this reporting obligation is to be extended to all companies with more than 250 employees as part of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). Controllers will therefore increasingly deal with the taxonomy in the coming years.

How can you imagine taxonomy reporting in the future?
Martin Momberg:
Reporting on the taxonomy should be integrated into the management report of companies in accordance with legal requirements. For this purpose, the framework provides for three central key figures, namely sales, total investments and operating costs. Affected companies must therefore examine their product portfolio and their assets to determine how large the sustainability component actually is. This then needs to be reported on using the three KPIs. In this process, controllers play a central role with their understanding of methods and costs.

What are the main challenges in dealing with the EU taxonomy?
Marco Möhrer:
On the one hand, the standard introduces numerous new terms that are still largely unknown in the controlling environment. On the other hand, there is currently a lot of time pressure to implement the taxonomy in companies in order to meet the legal requirements. A third point has to do with the question of how small and medium-sized companies can successfully organize the implementation. The taxonomy is also particularly relevant for medium-sized companies because it can have an impact on corporate financing, for example.

Dr. Marco Möhrer is a controller at Robert Bosch GmbH and has a doctorate in measuring sustainability in companies. He is Head of the Expert Work Group "Green Controlling for Responsible Business" in the ICV and regularly publishes articles on sustainable corporate management.

Martin Momberg as head of the ESG Accounting and EU Taxonomy team at Deutsche Post DHL Group, responsible for the central recording of sustainability indicators and the development of taxonomy-compliant reporting. From 2015 to 2021 he was responsible for group-wide emissions reporting and emissions-related planning and controlling activities.

The questions/answers are an excerpt from the interview in Controller Magazin March/April 2022 as part of the ICV pages in CM. You can download the complete interview here (in German).