To read this content please select one of the options below:

Sustainability reporting at EU level: leading by example?

Katharina Bryan (European Court of Auditors, Luxembourg, Luxembourg)

Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management

ISSN: 1096-3367

Article publication date: 9 November 2021

Issue publication date: 26 April 2022




This paper aims to contribute to research on public sector sustainability reporting, by focussing on the sustainability reporting of EU institutions and agencies. It seeks to examine to what extent the EU is leading by example in this area and to highlight the challenges for developing sustainability reporting at EU level.


The paper is based on the European Court of Auditors’ (ECA) review on reporting on sustainability and presents the results of qualitative research, including a survey conducted among EU institutions and agencies. Additional secondary literature analysis puts the review's findings into the current research context on sustainability reporting.


The paper provides an overview of how the EU and its institutions and agencies report on sustainable development. It finds that the EU, as well as its institutions and agencies, are not yet leading by example on sustainability reporting. Of the 53 EU institutions and agencies surveyed, only 2 published sustainability reports. Additionally, the paper identifies key challenges for sustainability reporting in the public sector and highlights future research areas.


This is the first academic article on sustainability reporting of EU institutions and agencies. It contributes to our understanding of the status and challenges of public sector, supranational sustainability reporting and the auditing of such activities.



The author works as Head of Cabinet at the European Court of Auditors, Luxembourg. This article expresses the personal opinion of the author and not that of the European Court of Auditors.


Bryan, K. (2022), "Sustainability reporting at EU level: leading by example?", Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, Vol. 34 No. 3, pp. 488-497.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles