The Council of the EU adopted a set of legislative reforms which contribute to the capital markets union, concerning the creation of a new category of benchmarks contributing to sustainable finance; transparency obligations for sustainable investments; new prudential requirements and supervisory arrangements for investment firms; a harmonised framework for covered bonds; and rules promoting access to small and medium enterprise (SME) growth markets. The two regulations on sustainable finance introduce disclosure obligations on how financial companies integrate environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in their investment decisions and create new types of benchmarks aimed at giving greater information on an investment portfolio's carbon footprint: the EU climate-transition benchmarks, which aim to lower the carbon footprint of a standard investment portfolio, and the EU Paris-aligned benchmarks, which have the more ambitious goal to select only components that contribute to attaining the 2°C reduction set out in the Paris climate agreement. The new regulation and directive on harmonised product requirements and supervision of covered bonds specify a common definition for receiving an EU covered-bond label and benefiting from preferential capital treatment. The new framework to help SMEs concerns access to "SME growth markets", a recently introduced category of trading venue dedicated to small issuers. The proposal contains amendments to the market abuse and the prospectus regulations, to improve the proportionality of obligations placed on SME growth-market issuers.

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