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Parliamentary questions
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14 August 2019
Answer given by Ms Vestager on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: P-002316/2019

On 7 December 2011 the European Commission approved the coal mine closure plan 2008 — 2018 (N708/2007)(1), which was drawn up by the Länder of North Rhine-Westphalia and Saarland, as well as the German Hard Coal Cooperation (RAG) and the Mining, Chemical and Energy Industrial Union (IG BCE).

The state aid granted to RAG under the plan was designed to implement the agreed phasing-out process in a socially responsible manner. The decision acknowledges that staff numbers would need to decline significantly between 2011 and 2018. Older workers would benefit from early retirement measures, whilst additional measures will be needed to help younger staff find new jobs. Avoiding lay-offs was an important objective of the agreement.

The decision also recognises that subsidies will continue to be needed after 2018 and foresees a budget to cover costs related to closure as well as inherent liabilities to be paid after 2018. Closure costs include expenditure for staff reductions. Precise amounts can be found in the annex of the decision.

The German Government also commited to notifying plans to refinance, alter or change the scheme to the Commission. The Commission has not received such notice and therefore presumes that the initially agreed scheme is still valid.

Guaranteeing the social sustainability of pit closure processes does not lie within the Commission’s competences under state aid rules. Through its Coal Regions in Transition Initiative the Commission supports national and regional authorities with a view to ensuring a just transition for EU citizens and regions concerned.

(1)Case N708/2007 Coal mine closure plan 2008-2018 http://ec.europa.eu/competition/elojade/isef/case_details.cfm?proc_code=3_N708_2007

Last updated: 16 August 2019Legal notice