Statutory reporting obligation for extractive sector companies (BilRUG)
The Accounting Directive Implementation Law (BilRUG) of July 23, 2015, implemented the requirements of the EU Accounting Directive 2013/34/EU of June 26, 2013 into German legislation. Many provisions of Sections 341q et seq. in the HGB correspond to the requirements of the EITI. All the ‘large’ limited companies and limited liability partnerships involved in the extractive sector or in the logging sector in primary forests are subject to these reporting requirements under commercial law (cf. § 341q, HGB). The term ‘large’ in the legal sense refers to companies that exceed at least two of the following three criteria on two successive reporting dates ((§ 267(3), HBG):
- Balance sheet total of €20 million.
- Net turnover of €40 million.
- An annual average of 250 employees.
Within the meaning of § 264d of the HGB, capital market-oriented limited companies, as well as credit institutions and insurance companies in the legal form of limited companies (including limited liability commercial partnerships) are also subject to the reporting obligation, irrespective of their size. Subsidiaries (in corporate group structures) that meet the size criteria and the criterion of activity in combination with their parent companies are also subject to reporting obligations. The size and location of the pertinent subsidiary is not relevant in this case.
The companies subject to the legal provisions are required to disclose all payments (specified in § 341r, No. 3 of the HGB) made to government agencies above a ‘materiality threshold’ of €100,000 per government agency, if these payments fall under one of the reasons for payment specified in § 341r, No. 3. In addition to tax payments, this includes e.g. licenses, concessions and other contractual relationships related to the extraction of natural resources. The data must be allocated to individual projects if more than one project was carried out in the year under review.
Similarities and differences in the reporting obligation as per EITI
In addition to the statutory reporting requirements pursuant to BilRUG, the most important financial flows of the extractive industry are also disclosed via the EITI (read more on payment reconciliation ). The reporting requirements under commercial law largely correspond to those of the EITI. However, there are also differences.
One fundamental difference between the BilRUG and the EITI lies in the extent of the reporting. EITI stipulates that the participating companies from the natural resources extractive sector publish all significant payments they make to government agencies. In contrast to BilRUG, the material payments are not exhaustively listed by EITI and must be clarified in the course of the EITI process ((read more on payment reconciliation ). The EITI standard does not provide for a distinction between payments above or below the limit of at least €100,000 annually. The German D-EITI stakeholders have agreed to adopt the materiality threshold of the BilRUG.
In contrast to BilRUG, EITI relies on the mutual disclosure of the payment flows. The state must also therefore grant an insight into its income from the extractive industry, for the purposes of payment reconciliation. In this context, one of EITI’s main concerns is to make the payment flows available in the form of open data, thereby supporting the public debate.