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Research Fund For Coal & Steel

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Europe’s security of energy supply calls for a balanced fuel mix within which coal is, and will remain, a key element. Coal is still abundant and available in large quantities across the world in a variety of politically stable countries. It remains a major fossil fuel, accounting for around 40% of world electricity production. Consequently, clean coal technologies, namely increased efficiency and reduction in CO2 emissions, are crucial.

The European steel industry is a world leader, notably for the design and production of high added value grades. It is important that it remains competitive, namely, in the face of increasingly fierce competition from Asia. To meet that challenge, there is a need to support advanced research, notably in the field of cleaner and carbon-free processes.

The EU has supported research on coal and steel for more than 50 years. It all started with the Treaty on the European Community for Steel and Coal (ECSC, signed in 1951). This Treaty expired in 2002.

It was however decided to make the assets of the ECSC (and the associated interest) available to a research fund for coal and steel ('RFCS'). This fund provides around EUR 55 million each year to support research projects on a wide range of aspects related to coal and steel – from production processes to the impact on the climate and environment.

As regards coal, research projects encompass the entire coal production chain and aim to optimize the coal mining production, improve coal preparation techniques and develop clean combustion processes. In addition projects address health and safety issues in mines as well as climate change issues.

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Research on steel addresses

  • the steel production process with a view to enhancing product quality and increasing productivity;
  • the reduction of emissions, energy consumption and environmental impact of steel production;
  • the utilisation of steel to meet the future requirements of steel users and to create new market opportunities;
  • the conservation of resources as well as the preservation of the ecosystem; and
  • safety issues.

The RFCS is complementary to and managed outside the Seventh Framework programme. Its legal base is the Council Decision 2008/376/EC of 29 April 2008. The fund's activities are implemented by the European Commission, DG Research, with the assistance of a Programme Committee and several advisory committees consisting of experts from national governments, industry, research and academia.

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The participation is simple: proposals can be submitted any time with a cut-off date of 15 September each year. There is no ceiling for project budget or for the number of participating partners in each project. Third countries may participate, but without receiving any European financial support. The scientific follow-up is carried out by a "peer review" system.

The long-term strategy of the Programme is based on the priorities identified by the EC in collaboration with advisory bodies consisting of the Coal Advisory Group (CAG), the Steel Advisory Group (SAG) in relation with the European Steel Technology Platform (ESTEP).

These priorities are taken into account by means of the Information Package, which is the document providing guidance to potential applicants for their submissions. The Information Package is annually updated in order to reflect any new priorities.

An overview of projects funded by the RFCS can be found in these publications:

More detailed information on the RFCS and on the application procedure you can find on the RFCS homepage.