The EU has clamped down on state subsidies to the European hard coal sector, ruling that loss making mines can only continue to receive government help if plans to close them are put in place. These plans will have to ensure that the mines are closed by October 2014 at the latest.
The Ruhr region of Germany, northwest Spain and the Jiu Valley in Hungary will be hit hardest hit as mines in these area’s rely heavily on operating subsidies, which totaled EUR 3.2 billion in 2008. Poland, Hungary and Slovakia could also be affected.
The scheme, which is tougher than earlier drafts, aims “to ensure a definitive closure of uncompetitive mines by October 2014”, said EU competition commissioned, Joaquin Almunia. He also noted that the expectation was for the subsidies to go more towards supporting the social and environmental cost of the closures.
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