Coal in Europe’s energy mix
Coal accounts for about 20% of total electricity production in the EU. It also provides jobs to around 230,000 people in mines and power plants across 31 regions and 11 EU countries.
While coal remains a primary fuel in the European energy mix, the transition to cleaner forms of energy and innovative technologies, such as carbon capture and storage, is imperative to meet the EU’s commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and to become the world’s first climate-neutral bloc by 2050.
Since 2012, total coal power generation has dropped by almost a third in the EU. The declining use of coal has caused mines to close down and power plants to be decommissioned in a number of regions across Europe. The graph below depicts the current state of play of national coal phase-out commitments in the EU.
Supporting coal regions in transition
The European Green Deal aims at making Europe the first climate-neutral bloc in the world by 2050. To help to achieve this goal, the Commission introduced in January 2022 the Just Transition Mechanism in its proposal for Regulation COM/2020/22. Alongside tailored financial and practical support, it will help workers and generate the necessary investments to areas particularly affected, like the EU coal regions.
Furthermore, the Commission provides tailored support to coal regions, peat and oil shale regions, either in the form of operational country teams or bilateral discussions with Commission experts. This support can help national and regional authorities to identify ways to initiate and implement the transition. This support is accompanied by existing EU funds, financing tools and programmes.
The country teams work with national and regional authorities in regions chosen by EU countries to encourage the preparation of transition strategies and support the identification of priority projects.
The Initiative for coal regions in transition
To ensure that no region is left behind in this transition, the Commission also launched in 2017 the Initiative for coal regions in transition to help mitigate the social consequences of the low-carbon transition in coal, peat and oil shale regions of the European Union.
The Initiative for coal regions in transition is an open forum that gathers all relevant parties, local, regional and national governments, businesses and trade unions, NGOs and academia to promotes knowledge-sharing and exchanges of experiences between EU coal regions. It represents a unique, bottom-up approach to a just transition, enabling regions to identify and respond to their unique contexts and opportunities.
The map below shows EU coal, peat and oil shale regions and corresponding employment figures in the extracting sector (coal mining, oil shale mining and peat extraction for energy purposes).
- Decision on financing and support for coal and carbon intensive regions in transition (C(2020) 5455) and its annexes (August 2020)
- Factsheet – The Just Transition Mechanism (January 2020)
- Study – EU coal regions: opportunities and challenges ahead (JRC, July 2018)
- Terms of reference – Initiative on coal and carbon-intensive regions