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11
Sep

COAL REGIONS IN TRANSITION

The European commission has recognized, within the framework of the Platform on coal regions in transition, the status of the pilot region to the Zasavje region and Savinjsko – Šaleška region. At the fourth meeting of the Platform, which was held in Brussels in April 2019, the representatives of the Slovenian Ministry of infrastructure held a presentation of both regions, which was also attended by the representatives of Regional development agency Zasavje.

In the European union there are currently 41 coal regions in 12 countries with 185.000 workers directly employed in the coal industry and an additional 53.000 workers employed in thermal coal-fired power plants. All coal regions face the same phenomena such as lack of skilled workers, deindustrialization and high labour costs, which prevents them to take advantage of all the benefits of industrial production change. In addition, the European union, has set itself an objective, in accordance with the Paris Climate Agreement, to establish a climate-neutral economy, which among other things includes phasing out the use of coal for energy production. Coal regions will have to be restructured economically, otherwise they face the negative social consequences and economic downturn due to the abandonment of coal industry. Some regions, where the restructuring of the economy has not been successful after the cessation of coal activities, have already experienced such consequences.

For this purpose, the Platform on coal region in transition was established, where representatives of countries, regions, social partners, industry and civil society share experiences and good practices in the filed of coal regions restructuring. The European Commission work groups provide assistance to regions in the form of technical support and trainings in order for transition to take place in a fair and socially acceptable manner. In addition, they advise regions on the acquisition of investment funds, the improvement of smart specialization strategies and supporting innovative businesses. These activities are supported by European cohesion policy and are financed by cohesion funds. To date, the working groups operate in 18 coal regions, including the Zasavska and Savinjsko – Šaleška pilot region.

Particular emphasis will be placed through the Platform on the preparation and implementation of regions smart specialization strategies, which will be based on improving the innovation potential of the regions, removing investment barriers and educating workers with new knowledge and skills that will help them to meet new social and economic challenges. In this way the regions will strive to create new jobs and restore economic growth, thereby improving their competitive advantage and climb up the value scale. The regions will thus be more adapted to new challenges posed by globalization, the transition to climate-neutral circular economies and the fourth industrial revolution with its comprehensive, digital and adaptable production methods.

In the current EU financial perspective 32 billion € is available to 18 pilot regions. The next EU financial perspective also foresees the establishment of a European fund to support the coal regions. The pilot regions will cooperate with the European Commission through national and regional institutions. The first meeting with the European Commission Task Force for the Savinjsko-Šaleška and Zasavska pilot region will be convened by the Ministry of Infrastructure in July.

Source: https://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/docgener/brochure/Industrial_transition_no_region_left_behind_en.pdf