The European Commission launched a new initiative to help coal regions in the Western Balkans and Ukraine transition away from coal towards a carbon-neutral economy.
Mirroring the successful EU Initiative for coal regions in transition, the newly established secretariat will deliver support to coal regions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Ukraine. Seventeen regions with significant coal mining activities and coal-based energy production will be the key beneficiaries.
“The EU has put just transition at the very heart of its roadmap towards a resilient, climate-neutral and future-proof economy and the European Green Deal,” said Ditte Juul Jørgensen, Director-General for Energy in the European Commission. “We recognise that not all regions and countries have the same starting point on the path to climate neutrality and that is why the European Green Deal includes a just transition chapter, which provides for specific support to the regions and people most affected by the transition. This includes regions with ongoing coal mining activity and people currently active in the coal sector.”
The first objective of the new initiative is to create an open platform allowing for region-wide, multi-stakeholder dialogue and providing a space for sharing experiences, knowledge and best practices on transition-related issues amongst coal regions in the Western Balkans and Ukraine. From there, the aim is to build ties between EU coal regions and their counterparts in the Western Balkans and Ukraine through twinnings, as a way to foster exchange and to transfer knowledge, experience and best practices on transition-related issues.
A further ambition is to establish a coal academy in order to provide capacity building among relevant stakeholders on transition-related issues, providing dedicated training on governance, community engagement, environmental reclamation and repurposing of land and assets. Selected pilot regions will be provided with access to technical assistance in the form of expert support in order to develop transition roadmaps for relevant public authorities.
Finally, the initiative’s partners will help coal regions in the Western Balkans and Ukraine to access financing for transition projects or programmes, based on various available sources, including from the European Commission, the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.