What is the EU Taxonomy?
The EU Taxonomy is a classification system establishing a list of environmentally sustainable economic activities, to facilitate sustainable investment.
In short, an activity is considered environmentally sustainable:
If it makes a substantial contribution to at least one of the following environmental objectives:
- Climate change mitigation
- Climate change adaptation
- The sustainable use and protection of water and marine resources
- The transition to a circular economy
- Pollution prevention and control
- The protection and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems
- while doing no significant harm (DNSH) to any of them.
How does the JRC support work on the EU taxonomy?
The JRC has supported the conceptual and methodological development of the EU Taxonomy since the EC established the Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance (TEG) in 2018. Since 2020, the JRC has also provided methodological guidance as well as technical input to the Platform on Sustainable Finance (PSF) and to the work carried out internally by the European Commission.
This includes contributing to:
- the EU Taxonomy’s key concepts,
- methodologies, as well as
- developing technical screening criteria.
Why do we need an EU taxonomy?
The EU taxonomy is part of the EU's overall efforts to reach the objectives of the European Green Deal. It acts as a robust, science-based transparency tool to help companies and investors make sustainable investment decisions.
Notable, it is expected to:
- create security for investors
- protect private investors from greenwashing
- help companies to plan the transition
- mitigate market fragmentation, and
- scale up sustainable investments to help achieve the Green Deal objectives.
JRC played a central role in the Commission’s work in preparing the first delegated act on sustainable activities for climate change. The JRC ensured that Taxonomy criteria are based on scientific evidence and a robust methodology.
The JRC developed the methodology for defining substantial contribution to climate change mitigation and published a report outlining it. JRC work has underpinned the impact assessment that accompanies the climate delegated act.
Explore the already adopted Taxonomy climate criteria using the EU Taxonomy Compass.
The JRC also contributes to the coordination of the Platform on Sustainable Finance, the new expert group the replaces the TEG and advises the Commission on the development of the EU Taxonomy, as established by the Taxonomy Regulation. The platform is made of 57 members and 10 observers from EU and international bodies, businesses, civil society, academia, think tanks and experts appointed in personal capacity.
The JRC works close together with a core group of Commission departments:
- Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union (DG FISMA)
- Environment (DG ENV)
- Climate Action (DG CLIMA)
Colleagues from the JRC, those services and many other DGs have each contributed with their knowledge and expertise towards a joint common product on a daily basis for over two years.
Recently, the Platform has published a report on an environmental transition taxonomy and a report on a social taxonomy. These reports do not bind the European Commission on any decision on the matter.
Our main involvement in the coordination of the Platform is in the subgroup called “Technical Working Group” (TWG).
The TWG is in charge of developing and updating the technical screening criteria for the six environmental objectives as well as analysing requests from stakeholders about developing criteria for additional activities.
To support their work, the JRC published also a methodology for defining what is "substantial contribution" to each of the remaining four environmental objectives, and how to set out criteria accordingly.
In March 2022, the TWG has published a report and corresponding annex with their final recommendations of Technical Screening Criteria for the four remaining environmental objectives: Water, Circular economy, Pollution Prevention and Control, Biodiversity (in addition to some criteria for climate). These recommendations will be used as a starting point for the next EU Taxonomy Delegated Act.
The JRC has been given this role because of our experience with managing expert groups towards consensus-building in similarly complex high-stake technical discussions capitalising on the so-called “Sevilla process”.
The “Sevilla process” is an innovative governance model to create legislation based on stakeholders’ engagement and underpinned by robust methodologies and sound scientific/technical information and data.
This process has already been implemented for the definitions of the best available techniques reference documents (BREFs) under the industrial emissions directive and other policies.
Experts from all across JRC have contributed in-depth unbiased technical expertise on almost all economic activities addressed so far.