On 1st December last year, the new Von der Leyen Commission took office with a clear ambition: to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. The European Green Deal, presented by the Commission just two weeks later, includes a comprehensive package of measures enabling European citizens and businesses to benefit from a sustainable green transition. This Deal represents the new growth strategy for Europe, aiming to reduce emissions while also creating jobs and boosting the economy. The energy sector is at its core.
As vital elements of the Green Deal, in January 2020, the Commission presented the Just Transition Mechanism and the Green Deal Investment Plan. The Just Transition Mechanism will ensure that no country, region nor person will be left behind in the green transition, by providing tailored financial and practical support to help reskilling the most impacted employees and generating investments and new jobs in those areas most affected by the transition. For the transformation to be a success, large-scale investment is absolutely essential. The overall financial package of the Mechanism is worth at least €100 billion. As for the Investment Plan, it will mobilise public investment and help unlock private funds through EU financial instruments, notably InvestEU, leading to a total of at least €1 trillion euros of investments in the European economy.
The Commission is conscious of the economic significance of coal to the economies of many regions in Europe. The coal sector still accounts for around one fifth of the total electricity production in the EU, and provides jobs to around 230 000 people in mines and power plants across thirty-one regions and eleven Member States. While for the time being coal remains an important fuel in the European energy mix, we need to acknowledge that change is already happening. In the context of climate change, the transition to cleaner sources of energy and innovative technologies is taking place and accelerates as coal is replaced by more sustainable and competitive alternatives. We as policy makers are committed to helping communities, which rely on the coal value chain during the progressive phasing out of coal from our energy mix over the next decades.
To do so, the Commission already in 2017 launched the “Platform for Coal Regions in Transition”, to support coal and carbon-intensive regions in transition to be prepared for the upcoming changes. This shift is an ongoing reality in Europe and although the move to a low-carbon economy presents many opportunities, the economic and social impacts in many coal regions cannot be ignored. The transformation ahead of us Europeans is unprecedented, and it will only work if it works for all.
Co-operation and exchange of views with the coal industry has been and will continue to be important for the European Commission. It is in our common interest to secure that the clean energy transition is just, fair and informed by the views of those who are living through it.