Coal accounts for about a quarter of all electricity production in the EU and is also an important fuel for industrial processes such as steel production. However, the production and consumption of coal in the EU has been steadily declining over the past few decades. This has led to coal mine closures in a number of countries.
Today, coal - including both hard coal and lignite - is actively mined in 11 countries and 42 regions across the EU. This makes it the most abundant fossil fuel in the EU and an important source of economic activity in these regions. The coal sector provides jobs to about 240,000 people: about 180,000 in the mining of coal and lignite and about 60,000 in coal- and lignite-fired power plants.
Coal is nevertheless the most carbon-intensive energy fuel in the EU's energy mix. As the EU is working towards drastically reducing its carbon emissions, including those from coal-fired power plants, the deployment of advanced technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) is key for the long-term sustainability of coal use.
Coal Regions in Transition Initiative
As part of the Clean Energy for All Europeans package, the Commission announced a series of accompanying actions to boost the clean energy transition by focusing on social fairness, new skills and financing for the real economy. These include the establishment of an 'EU Platform on Coal Regions in Transition' to help promote a socially fair clean energy transition. It was launched at a conference in Strasbourg, France, on 11 December 2017.
The aim of the Platform is to facilitate the identification, development and implementation of projects with the potential to kick-start the viable economic transformation of coal mining regions. It will enable the exchange of information on relevant funds and programmes, dialogue on the wider political and regulatory framework, best practice sharing, and peer-to-peer learning.
The Platform will also promote dialogue on the long-term policy framework and financing for successful transformation of coal and carbon-intensive regions.
Anyone with an interest in successful economic transformation of coal mining regions, including public authorities (national and regional), industry, social partners and civil society is invited to join the Platform. To get involved, please contact ENER-COAL-PLATFORM@ec.europa.eu.