The closure of uncompetitive coal mines will not reduce carbon dioxide emissions but will have serious consequences for employment, believes the European Parliament. MEPs therefore called on Tuesday for the EU's cut-off date for allowing state aid for the operation of coal mines to be extended until 31 December 2018.
MEPs regard the deadline proposed by the Commission for the closure of coal mines (1 October 2014) as arbitrary. A deadline of 2018 should ensure an acceptable solution without mass redundancies in a number of Member States, says a consultation report drafted by Bernhard Rapkay (S&D, DE).
Although Parliament has only a consultative role in this legislation, today's vote sends a strong political signal to the Council that extending the deadline for state aid is indispensable to the future of about 100,000 coal miners and other staff.
Apart from extending the deadline, MEPs wish to increase the overall amount of closure aid that can be granted by a Member State, although they stress that it must follow a downward trend. Coal production units must be closed definitively in accordance with the closure plan if they have not become competitive by the deadline and provided that the Union's energy needs do not require their continued existence.
MEPs also propose that state aid can cover the costs of research and technology investment designed to reduce pollutant emissions from coal.
The Council is expected to adopt the regulation on 10 December. This regulation will then replace the current "Coal Regulation" which expires on 31 December 2010.