Regions in transition towards climate neutrality need steady support from the EU
The €19.2 billion Just Transition Fund (JTF) is part of a Just Transition Mechanism and Cohesion Policy Funds that envisage mobilising dozens of billions of euros of public and private investment focusing on those regions, industries and workers who will face the greatest challenges addressing the transition towards a green economy. The concept of Just Transition, its various aspects and the state of implementation of the JTF as well as the way forward for coal- and energy-intensive regions was debated during a high-level conference organised on 22 November by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), together with the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU and Moravian-Silesian, Ústecký and Karlovarský regions.
The event followed a meeting of national ministers at the General Affairs Council dedicated to Cohesion, which took place in the morning on the same day. Ministers adopted the Conclusions on Cohesion Policy and its future.
Emil Boc (RO/EPP), Chair of the Commission for Territorial Cohesion Policy and EU Budget of the European Committee of the Regions, said: “We need a forward-looking grassroots discussion on our future political and investment priorities with the participation of local and regional entities. The European Union has to make the most out of the Just Transition Fund, and the participation of cities and regions is of key importance to its success.”
Ivan Bartoš, Deputy Prime Minister for Digitisation and Minister for Regional Development of Czech Republic, stated: “The topic of Just Transition is crucial in the light of the challenges the European Union and the whole world face today. I assume that, thanks to support from various sources, the process of transition of these regions will be put in motion and continue; and at the end of the year 2028, we would hopefully be able to say that these regions will be ready to move away from coal and lignite mining.”
Elisa Ferreira, European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, said: “Cohesion Policy was founded in response to the need to minimise the risks and accompany the more vulnerable countries and regions in the industrial transformation and the energy crisis of the 1970s. It has been supporting transitioning regions, and their economic transformations, for over 50 years now. Today, we are faced with another transition that we need to accelerate due to the current energy situation. The Just Transition Fund, which was conceived before the energy crisis, draws on the long experience of successful transitions and aims at ensuring those living in the regions most exposed to the impact of climate change that they will not be left behind.”
Younous Omarjee, Chair of the Committee on Regional Development of the European Parliament, said: “Europe, since its inception, has been about energy and energy crises. The upheaval ahead of us is to move away from all the models built so far, to overcome them and create new ones. The Covid crisis and the energy crisis have reminded Europe of the need to lead an energy revolution to build a sustainable and resilient economy.”
Sari Rautio (FI/EPP), CoR rapporteur on “Just and Sustainable Transition in the context of the coal- and energy-intensive regions”, said: “The Just Transition Fund is and should remain an important part of Cohesion Policy. It should be based on the principles of partnership and multi-level governance, and it should complement the support provided by the EU funds for regional development (ERDF) and social cohesion (ESF+). Let’s leave no one behind.”
The Governors of the Moravian-Silesian Region – Ivo Vondrák – and Karlovarský Region, Petr Kulhánek, and Iva Dvořáková, a member of the Ústecký Regional Council, also attended the Conference, during which several best practices of just transition for coal regions, in particular from the Czech Republic, were also presented.