Poland, which employs over half of the 230,000 people working in Europe’s coal industry, is in line for the biggest share, followed by Germany and Romania, both home to big coal-mining regions.
The European Parliament on Tuesday formally approved the European Union’s multi-billion euro fund to support countries as they wind down fossil fuel industries, as the bloc overhauls its economy to fight climate change.
The 17.5 billion euro ($21.37 billion) Just Transition Fund (JTF) combines cash from the EU’s budget and its COVID-19 recovery fund.
It will support communities most affected by plans to shut down coal, peat and oil shale sectors, or other emissions-intensive industries, and replace them with low-carbon industries and jobs — a transformation seen as key to meeting the EU’s target to eliminate its net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
German Green lawmaker Niklas Nienass praised the terms of the fund, which cannot be spent on nuclear energy or fossil fuels including natural gas.
To access the money, regions must submit plans detailing how they intend to manage mine closures and retrain workers. The European Commission has warned Poland that its plan to extend the life of a coal mine in Turow until 2044 could cost the region its share of the fund.