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On May 30, 2024, the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration (FEBA) held the first presentation of the European Sustainability Reporting Standards for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Bulgarian. The event was organized in partnership with the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG), UBB, and "24 Hours".

The discussion, titled "ESG and the Involvement of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the Transition to Sustainability. European Reporting Standards" was opened by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Marina Stefanova, Vice-Dean for Sustainability, Empowerment, and Engagement at the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration. According to her, this dialogue must occur before the standards are adopted. "The Bulgarian standard for SMEs is important, and for a year now, we have been discussing the standards for large enterprises, but for small enterprises, this topic is still distant from us", she noted.


Desislava Simeonova, Executive Director of "SME Banking" at UBB and leader of the sustainable financing program, participated in the official opening. She stated that although the directive will officially come into force in two years, questions from these enterprises will start during this period. "Awareness is a key word and of essential importance", she believes.

"Measuring exactly what in non-financial reports is a real challenge for companies", noted Assoc. Prof. Dr. Atanas Georgiev, Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration. He emphasized the importance of the event, believing that more information will be required from companies, and those not currently bound by such reporting should not become complacent. Assoc. Prof. Georgiev reminded that the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration has developed ESG workshops for SMEs. "In these workshops, everyone can learn about the process of developing ESG reports", he said. The Dean of the Faculty added that from the new academic year, a new master's program focusing on accounting and sustainability will be launched. "We want to show that there is already knowledge that can be applied in practice", added Assoc. Prof. Dr. Georgiev.

The event was divided into two main parts. The first topic was "Sustainable Transformation and Inclusion of Listed SMEs (LSME)". In it, Dimitris Katsagounos, from the EFRAG Secretariat, Technical PMO LSME, provided more information on the creation of the standards. He noted that this year they have created European standards likely to be adopted by the end of the year for listed SMEs. A general standard for these enterprises is being prepared, with a sectoral analysis being conducted. The process will be the same as for large companies. Enterprises must start reporting in 2027 since the standard for them will come into force a year later. Mr. Katsagounos emphasized something very important: SMEs report individually. This means that those SMEs part of a group that already presents a sustainability report do not report indicators.


The Regulation will describe the content of the reporting:

  • A brief description of the business model;
  • A description of sustainability-related policies;
  • A principle for the undesirable and side effects of enterprises;
  • Actions to identify and mitigate these potential adverse effects.

The main sections of the standard are six. The EFRAG team proposes the following structure:

  • Sections 1, 2, and 3 – general sections, including purpose, scope, and structure;
  • Section 4 – Environment - energy consumption, energy mix, total greenhouse gas emissions, and projects to reduce their impact;
  • Section 5 – Social sphere - requirement to provide information on the characteristics of employees, those working in the company who are not employees, collective labor agreements, wages, occupational safety, and others;
  • Section 6 - Governance of relations with suppliers, anti-corruption policies, and actions for political influence and lobbying.

The first part also included a discussion panel on "SMEs and Stakeholders – Proportionality, Expectations, Priorities, and Needs". It was moderated by Maria Alexiou – business consultant on sustainability and human rights, member of the EFRAG SR Lab and EFRAG Secretariat, founder and member of CSR Hellas and UNGCNH. Mrs. Alexiou emphasized the importance of SMEs, which provide a large part of the jobs in the EU. "The transition we are aiming for should be a joint effort of all market participants. For the first time, financial and non-financial reporting are placed on an equal footing, and companies must show their indicators and achievements in the field of sustainable development", she noted.


Participants in the discussion included: Evgeniya Kyuchukova-Troanska from ICPA, a member of the working group on sustainability reporting in ICPA. She talked about the challenges for auditors in reporting such rapidly created standards and the need to work with many external experts: "We are starting a marathon, not a sprint. We cannot expect to have perfect reports in a year, but we must start making them, and we are all investing a lot in this process to begin".

"Environmental protection is an extremely important topic, and the more we value it, the easier it will be for us in the future. The goal, in my opinion, is to see change", shared Kalin Genchev, Commercial Director of "Billboard" AD. He believes that reports should be unified to measure them correctly.

Borislav Ivanov, Deputy Financial Director of "Shelly Group" thinks that companies will need help to know where to start.

The second part of the event focused on the topic of sustainable transformation and inclusion of micro-, small, and medium enterprises - non-listed on the stock exchange. In it, Mathias Mazini from the EFRAG Secretariat, Technical PMO VSME, presented the topic of voluntary standards for non-listed SMEs and a consistent approach for all SMEs.

In the discussion panel, moderated by Associate Professor Dr. Marina Stefanova, representatives from various companies participated.

"We fully support this initiative, and it is useful and necessary for us", shared Silvia Todorova, Director of the Entrepreneurship Center, BIA. She believes that there should be greater flexibility and enterprises should be given the opportunity to choose which indicators and what exactly to report. They would not manage alone and need to attract external consultants.

Kiril Yanchev, Head of the Marketing, Credit Products, and Sustainable Development Department, UBB, shared that they "welcome this standard because it is necessary". He noted that this way, there will be clear frameworks and a clear idea of what information needs to be reported.

"Some things can certainly be further simplified so that not only businesses feel the burdens imposed from above, but it becomes a completely natural process", stated Teodora Borisova, Manager of Communication, Institutional, and Public Relations, "Solvay Bulgaria" AD.

According to Petya Manastirska, Manager of Sustainable Development and Quality, Devin AD, such a standard, presented in the most accessible way, in an understandable language, would be very useful for SMEs. She believes it is extremely important for the standard to be understandable to every enterprise. The common framework and general rules are the right direction for development.

The risks and challenges standing before the introduction of the standards were also discussed, namely: administrative difficulties; lack of interest from SMEs when discussing legislative changes at the EU level; informational support at the state and enterprise levels; the possibility for everyone to cooperate for successful reporting; timely preparation for reporting the standards.

The event concluded with a brief discussion between Mrs. Alexiou and Associate Professor Dr. Marina Stefanova.

The standards are expected to support SMEs in:

  • Defining accountability requirements that are proportional and correspond to the scale and complexity of SME activities;
  • Ensuring the availability of standardized sustainability information;
  • Avoiding discrimination against them by financial market participants;
  • Gaining better access to financing.

Discussions on the topic will continue in the future to prepare everyone for the successful reporting of the standards. The presentation of the standards can be found here.