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What does ESEF reporting mean?

A recent mandate from the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) is the European Single Electronic Format (ESEF) that requires the listed companies in the EU to prepare their annual financial report in XHTML format from January 2020. Further, if the annual financial report has the consolidated financial statements prepared in IFRS, the XHTML document should also include XBRL elements as per the ESEF taxonomy to make it machine-readable.

What are the reporting types in ESEF?


Reporting Companies Reporting Types
Listed companies with consolidated financial statements prepared in IFRS Annual financial report presented in XHTML with XBRL tags embedded
Other listed companies Annual financial report presented in XHTML

ESEF Compliance made easy with DataTracks Rainbow™

Business enterprises in the European Union have been producing AFRs for investors in PDF with rich glossy design and image content. With ESEF mandate in place, the key challenge for the business enterprises is that they do not want to lose the ability to produce rich design AFRs in the course of having to comply with ESEF reporting.

From rich design PDF to rich design XHTML

DataTracks provides an XBRL certified product (Rainbow DMS) and IFRS tagging services for creation, review and validation of Inline XBRL reports for ESMA-ESEF filings. DataTracks Rainbow™ solves the key challenge by reading the rich design PDFs and converting them into XHTML output fit for ESEF reporting, without losing the design elements of AFR. DataTracks Rainbow™ eases the preparation of compliance reports by letting filers focus on data without worrying about the technical complexities of iXBRL. It’s a single-source platform that supports easy, collaborative document preparation, facilitates access control, allows quick last-minute changes and ensures that the specific requirements of each EU member state are covered. Irrespective of changing regulations and constant taxonomy updates, with DataTracks Rainbow™, you never have to worry about keeping up with all regulatory changes.

DataTracks Rainbow™ Solution: ESMA ESEF and SEC compliant

DataTracks Rainbow™ is a one-stop solution for the companies listed in both the EU and the US. Such companies have to comply with both the ESEF reporting requirements by filing to the relevant EU National Competent Authority (NCA) and HTML, XBRL, and iXBRL reporting to the US SEC from 2020. We have experience of preparing over 75,000 iXBRL filings with HMRC, and over 20,000 XBRL reports with the SEC.

Our early collaborations with ESMA on ESEF mandate

ESMA field test

During the later part of 2017, DataTracks participated in a field test for the initial phase of ESEF implementation, conducted by ESMA. DataTracks demonstrated its ESEF reporting tool, DataTracks Rainbow™, to the attendees, “How Inline XBRL report will help us to maintain a single comprehensive document of reference which is both machine and human-readable.

Demonstration of conversion of AFRs into XHTML

In May 2019, a major announcement was made by ESMA regarding European Single Electronic Format (ESEF) regulation at the event organised by XBRL Europe in Paris. It stated that all listed companies in the European Union provide their Annual Financial Returns (AFRs) in an XHTML format. Where AFRs contain IFRS consolidated financial statements, XBRL tags need to be embedded ensuring that the document is both machine and human-readable.

During this event, DataTracks demonstrated the conversion of an AFR into XHTML format by retaining the high-end design and applying XBRL tags on top of the document, using its DataTracks Rainbow™ software. Further, XHTML output was rendered in a viewer built by DataTracks for an efficient review of XBRL tags.

Top 8 Features That Differentiate Us


Quick and easy compliance

With our bolt-on approach of reading rich design PDF, allowing the XBRL tagging on top, and generating the XHTML by retaining the same rich design, filers need not make significant changes to their current processes.

Easy XBRL tagging

Create and manage XBRL with multiple tagging options for table and narrative contents and with taxonomy listed in all the EU languages. Roll forward and re-use XBRL tags from previous filings for consistency. Certified by XBRL International and XBRL US, our software assures error-free output for live submission with ESMA.

Collaboration and co-authoring

Prepare compliance reports in our cloud-based software with multiple people working simultaneously on the same document from different locations, by directly uploading, manual keying in or copy-pasting data. Highlight and insert comments on the document to carry out discussions. Track all changes to the document and accept/reject changes.

Data consistency

With our Autolink feature, connect and bring in the data from your ERP systems and various other data sources including offline spreadsheets ensuring comprehensive data integrity. With our Data Cloning feature, link the same data items in multiple locations in the document so that changes made in one location get reflected in all the locations.

Easy last minute changes

Last minute changes can be handled quickly; changes made to the content are automatically updated in all the output files.

Regulate data access

Create user group and define authority levels that regulate a user’s privileges on various activities in the application. Split the document into as many sections as you want and manage user access to each section.

Multiple output formats

Export outputs in multiple formats such as HTML, XHTML, PDF, Word and Excel. Additional specific requirements of each EU member state are also covered.

Certified XBRL creation software

Our software is certified by XBRL International Organization assuring error-free XBRL/iXBRL output. Further, XBRL data is also validated against the rules framed by Data Quality Committee (DQC) of XBRL US which will be useful for companies with dual filing responsibility (ESMA and US SEC).

Some Endorsements:

Was absolutely fantastic to see this innovation. 11 months ago we demo-ed a "hand-hacked" design-led Inline report. Now we have firms like @DataTracks releasing amazing tools that allow the creation of familiar "glossy" reports in machine-readable Inline #XBRL! #esef
- John Turner, the President of XBRL Organization worldwide in his Twitter feed
Preliminary tests of DataTracks' Rainbow solution have been encouraging. Using a PDF as the source file, they can generate a tagged XHTML (iXBRL) output retaining all of the design elements of the annual report. It's impressive that DataTracks has achieved this and we are excited to explore the solution further to help meet our clients' reporting needs.
- Founder of a Design Studio Firm in the UK



Press Release



DataTracks demonstrates its Rainbow™ ESEF solution at the 25th XBRL Europe Digital Week

Date : 07-07-2020

ESMA has mandated all issuers of publicly traded securities to prepare annual financial statements in European Single Electronic Format (ESEF) for the financial years beginning on or after Jan 1, 2020. The ESEF mandate and the compliance readiness of filers[..]


DataTracks Participates in ESMA Field Tests for iXBRL

Date : 09-01-2018

ESMA (European Securities and Markets Authority) is the European regulator for promoting stable and orderly financial markets in Europe. It has drafted the ESEF (European Single Electronic Format) specifications that require all issuers in Europe to present their financial statements[..]


DataTracks Solutions Capable of ESEF Reporting (European Single Electronic Format)

Date : 03-12-2018

DataTracks, a global leader in compliance and regulatory reporting, was part of a working group organised by XBRL Europe in an effort to establish the standards of reporting for listed companies across the European Union. 

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