Moving away from an economy driven by fossil fuels, the European Union launched a new platform to kick-start the transition to a more sustainable future.

The new Coal Regions in Transition Platform was launched on December 11. Its aim is to facilitate the development of projects and long-term strategies in coal regions. It will bring together EU, national, regional and local stakeholders involved in the transition to help them foster partnerships and learn from each other’s experiences.

The Platform’s activities will initially focus on coal regions, with the aim to expand to carbon-intensive regions in the future. It is designed to boost the clean energy transition by bringing more focus to social fairness, structural transformation, new skills and financing for the real economy.

Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of the Energy Union, Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy and Corina Creţu, Commissioner for Regional Policy officially launched the platform together with representatives of European regions, different stakeholders and business leaders. The launch was scheduled to coincide with the “One Planet Summit” convened by the French President Emmanuel Macron to mark the second anniversary of the Paris Agreement on climate.

At the summit, the Commission will show that the EU is leading the fight against climate change by example and through action. The new platform is one of the key accompanying actions part of the Clean Energy for All Europeans package (IP/16/4009) launched in November 2016.

“The challenges facing the EU coal regions can only be addressed in partnership with all actors on the ground,” said Šefčovič. “The Energy Union is the right framework for this. We want to work closely with national, regional and local stakeholders in support of the structural transformation, using tailor-made solutions and all means at hand. Our objective is to see every region reaping the benefits of the clean energy transition, whilst creating new jobs and promoting investment in new technologies.”

Cañete noted that governments, business and regions all around the world are moving beyond coal. “Electricity generation from coal is declining,” he said. “This is an irreversible trend towards clean power, also here in Europe. But in this shift to a more sustainable future, there will be certain regions which find it more difficult than others to make this transition.”

Creţu added: “Our message to coal regions today is that the European Commission takes concrete actions to help them achieve a smooth transition towards a modern, sustainable and successful economy that leaves nobody behind”.

The Commission’s Cohesion policy is already supporting the transition in coal and carbon-intensive regions. This EU-wide policy helps regions achieve economic transformation by building on their “smart specialisation” assets (niche areas of competitive strengths) with the aim to embrace innovation and decarbonisation.

Also, the Commission is working on a pilot basis with a small number of regions in member states on planning and accelerating the process of economic diversification and technological transition through technical assistance, information exchange and tailored bilateral dialogue on relevant EU funds, programmes and financing tools.