Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans on Thursday said that transformation of mining regions may generate investment worth an estimated EUR 100 billion during the next seven years.
Timmermans, addressing online one of the sessions of the 12th European Economic Congress underway in Katowice, said that changes are inevitable and must be fair.
According to the EC vice-president, meeting the European Green Deal goals based on the Just Transition Mechanism over the next seven years could generate EUR 100 billion of investment in carbon-intensive regions and that this transformation must include such regions as the Slaskie province, south-western Poland.
Timmermans announced that after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, he will want to visit, among others Slaskie and Wielkopolskie provinces to personally talk about the transformation process with representatives of national and local government, trade unions and with people living in the two regions.
He said that everything has to be done for the regions to be properly prepared for transformation but added that there is no turning back from the transformation process.
According to data cited by Timmermans, last year coal consumption in Europe decreased by a quarter and it was the largest decrease in the consumption of coal in recent history. Timmermans declared that the era of fossil fuel economies is becoming history.
Noting that there is no other region in Europe today where a just transition is more important than in Slaskie province where mining is the primary source of income for thousands of families Timmermans said that just transition is an economic goal to be shared by all.
The speaker said that Slaskie province should be a model of a successful transformation adding that when transforming, one cannot simply pull out the plug of an industry machine that has been operating for several decades. He encouraged mining regions to prepare projects that would find funding under the Just Transition Fund.
Timmermans, pointing out that Poland will be the biggest beneficiary of this fund, expressed hope that the regions are already planning their changes and will present good plans and added that the European Union will support the process of change. The just transition mechanism should help families where jobs in hard coal and lignite mines are at risk. We want the transformation to be fair, but we must also ensure that it brings about real change, said Timmermans.
The EC vice-president assessed that Poland has huge potential for the development of the hydrogen economy, as well as biogas and offshore wind energy. In his opinion Poland may become a leader on a European scale in these areas.