Nikos Mantzaris from the Green Tank participated in the 4th Working Group Meeting of the Coal Regions in Transition platform which took place in Brussels on April 8-9, 2019.
The platform was established by the European Commission in 2017 in order to provide technical assistance to EU coal mining regions and to support their transition to alternative economic activities as shift their economies away from coal. The platform currently provides support for 20 regions -out of a total of 42- from 8 member states (CZ, DE, PL, EL, RO, SK, ES, SI).
The region of Western Macedonia, in Greece, was among the first 3 pilot regions to join the coal platform and is currently one of only two regions receiving assistance from the World Bank utilizing the Structural Reform Support Service (SRSS), in order to develop a concrete transition plan for the coming years.
Among the highlights of the 4th WG meeting was the introduction of the new Secretariat which will operate the platform henceforward. One of its main goals is to become a knowledge source through providing support materials and tools (guidance docs, toolkits, reports on key themes), as well as technical assistance and expertise to the regions.
Another fundamental difference compared to the previous 3 WG meetings was the adoption on behalf of the European Commission, after the suggestion of NGOs, of a format consisting of sessions or “project labs”. The new format allowed for more in depth discussion among platform participants on specific topics, which in this WG meeting were the following:
- Governance of the transition
- Reskilling and job placement programmes
- Advanced fuels and circular carbon economy
- Reclamation and recultivation
- Sustainable heating
As part of the 4th WG meeting, Nikos Mantzaris joined 5 other members of NGOs and think tanks across the EU in a meeting with Dr. Klaus-Dieter Borchardt, the Deputy Director General of DG ENER, head of the Coal Regions in Transition initiative. All the points regarding the operation of the platform, raised by NGOs in their recent letter to Dr. Borchardt were discussed. Particular emphasis was placed on the participation of NGOs in the country teams and the process of selecting projects that will be funded by EU funds. It was agreed that the EC will provide guidelines and best practices for the operation of country teams, where it will highlight the importance of the participation of NGOs as well as representatives of local communities and trade unions. Dr. Borchardt offered to meet with NGOs on a regular basis as part of future WG meetings.
The next WG meeting will be held in Brussels on 15-16 July 2019. The Green Tank participates in the Platform WG meetings in the context of the “Just Transition Eastern and Southern Europe”, which is coordinated by WWF Germany.