The EU’s Taxonomy

The European Union’s Taxonomy Regulation is a uniform, binding classification system for environmentally sustainable economic activities. Companies are obliged to report on the results of this classification on an annual basis. Article 9 of the EU’s Taxonomy sets out six environmental objectives. Concrete requirements (technical screening criteria) for environmental sustainability already exist for the first two of these (“climate change mitigation” and “climate change adaptation”) (Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/2139). Reference will be made to these later on in this section.

We took the draft FAQs published by the European Commission on December 19, 2022 (the “ Draft Commission notice on the interpretation and implementation of certain legal provisions of the EU Taxonomy Climate Delegated Act ” and the " Draft Commission notice on the interpretation and implementation of certain legal provisions of the Disclosures Delegated Act under Article 8 of EU Taxonomy Regulation ”) into account when preparing the Taxonomy disclosures for fiscal year 2022.

Taxonomy-eligible Economic Activities for Fiscal Year 2022

United Internet reviewed its Taxonomy-eligible economic activities for the 2022 reporting period. The following economic activities pursuant to Annex 1 of Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/2139 were identified as Taxonomy-eligible.

United Internet’s economic activities can be assigned in particular to activity 8.1 “Data processing, hosting, and related activities”. United Internet’s Business Applications Segment offers domains, home pages, web hosting, servers, cloud solutions, e-shops, group work, and online storage, among other things. This segment’s offering is therefore responsible for the majority of the United Internet Group’s Taxonomy-eligible activities. The Consumer Applications Segment is home to United Internet’s consumer applications such as online storage and personal information management. Activities relating to activity 8.1 have also been identified in this segment. Since the Consumer Access Segment offers online storage services, it also has a small number of Taxonomy-eligible activities attributable to activity 8.1.

The scope of the activities covered by the description of the activity is currently still open to interpretation. For this reason, United Internet has identified those activities (such as online storage) in which hosting and data storage play a key role as Taxonomy-eligible activities for the 2022 reporting period. Other activities that merely involve data transfer (as a peripheral activity) are not classified as falling within activity 8.1.

In contrast to the previous year, turnover from hosting and data storage activities using third-party data centers was also regarded as Taxonomy-eligible in fiscal year 2022. Since the description of the activity does not distinguish between an entity’s own and third-party data centers, United Internet decided not to make such a distinction any longer for the turnover generated in fiscal year 2022. In other words, all turnover associated with activity 8.1 is disclosed as being Taxonomy-eligible, regardless of whether the data processing involved is performed in our own or in third-party data centers.

In line with the reporting for the previous year, activities associated with expanding fiber-optic networks, mobile networks, and the use of the Company’s own fiber-optic networks are classified as Taxonomy-non-eligible. Also in line with the previous year’s reporting, United Internet has decided to adopt a narrow interpretation of activity 8.2 “Data-driven solutions for GHG emissions reductions” in this context. By doing so, it is complying with the answer to question no. 159 in the draft FAQs published by the European Commission in December 2022, which states that electronic communications networks are not to be classified as falling within activity 8.2 unless they are deployed and used in the context of a solution for GHG emissions reductions. However, continuing uncertainty as to how to interpret the Taxonomy may lead to different assessments next year.

Above and beyond this, additional activities associated with the performance of United Internet’s own business that can be assigned to a Taxonomy activity were identified in relation to CapEx and OpEx. These are the horizontal issues and infrastructure-related topics shown below :

  • 6.5 “Transport by motorbikes, passenger cars and light commercial vehicles,” i.e., expenditure associated with our vehicle fleet

  • 7.3 “Installation, maintenance and repair of energy efficiency equipment,” e.g., expenditure in relation to heating and cooling equipment and energy-efficient lighting sources

  • 7.4 “Installation, maintenance and repair of charging stations for electric vehicles in buildings (and parking spaces attached to buildings)”

  • 7.6 .“Installation, maintenance and repair of renewable energy technologies,” e.g., expenditure in relation to the installation of photovoltaic systems

  • 7.7. “Acquisition and ownership of buildings,” especially via IFRS 16 leases and rights of use in assets

United Internet’s activities were also examined to determine whether they relate to the environmental objective of “climate change adaptation” (Annex 2 of Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/2139). No activities set out in Annex 2 of Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2021/2139 were identified that were not already covered by classifications to activities set out in Annex 1 of the same regulation.