European Single Electronic Format (ESEF) Mandate

European Single Electronic Format (ESEF) Mandate

The ESEF mandate requires beginning January 1, 2020, all issuers on regulated markets within the EU and European Economic Area must submit annual financial reports (AFR) in the European Single Electronic Format. To be more specific, you’ll need to prepare your AFR in xHTML (a type of digital formatting) and, in case of IFRS consolidated financial statements, include Inline XBRL (tags for the primary financial statements.

Meeting the Mandated Requirements

There are two main steps for issuers to move from traditional PDF format to iXBRL:

  1. The need to create the 2020 AFR in xHTML format (or convert the report from HTML or InDesign files into xHTML).
  2. The need to add iXBRL tags where necessary.


There is no phase-in by company size or sector. Starting with the financial statements for annual periods beginning on or after January 1, 2020, the mandate applies to all issuers within the EU.


Annual financial reports (AFRs) in xHTML format and iXBRL-tagged IFRS consolidated financial statements are due four months after year-end. In practice, this means you won’t be submitting your first ESEF filing until early 2021.


The ESEF mandate is the end result of a cascade of actions that started with the European parliament’s goal to create a “single digital market” by “moving from individual national markets to one single EU-wide rulebook.” This led to the 2013 EU Transparency Directive changes, which essentially gave ESMA the task of defining a single digital financial reporting format. ESMA followed the clear global trend (following similar mandates by the U.S. SEC and South African CIPS), adopting XBRL tagging and iXBRL format as the basis of the ESEF.

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