The European Commission should focus on moving investors away from “excessive short-termism” as it develops the concepts surrounding the Capital Markets Union (CMU), according to the European sustainable investment association.

Eurosif’s executive director François Passant said it was currently unclear what shape the CMU would take, with financial services commissioner Jonathan Hill last week pledging to consult with NGOs and the financial sector ahead of delivering an “action plan” by 2015.

Hill’s speech did not directly reference sustainability, while highlighting the importance of the European Long-term Investment Fund (ELTIF), but Passant argued that it would be impossible to separate any roadmap from the European executive’s sustainability targets, such as those aiming to reduce carbon emissions.

“During the process of defining what CMU means, there is an opportunity to think how the emphasis of capital markets can be placed more on the long term, away from excessive short-termism,” Passant told IPE.

“In that agenda, environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters have a key role to play.”

Passant expressed regret that the existing legislative draft for the ELTIF, which Hill has said should pass into law by the end of the year, did not reference sustainability.

He said this was despite a number of other draft EU laws beginning to “embed and foster” the notion of sustainability.

“Long-term investment and ESG can again not be decoupled, especially when it comes to investments that may span decades, such as infrastructure,” he said.

According to Passant, the ELTIF was a unique opportunity to re-direct “vast” amounts of currently short-term, listed capital into long-term investment, while also considering ESG and non-financial matters.

He argued that ensuring ESG was taken on board would be one of the steps needed harmonise European investment markets under the CMU.

For more on the opportunities for sustainable investment within the CMU, see the upcoming December issue of IPE