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EU coal mine subsidies to end 2018

10 December 2010, 21:49 CET

(BRUSSELS) - Europe's coal industry will be allowed to receive state subsidies until 2018 but money-losing mines will have to close after that, European Union industry ministers decided Friday.

The European Commission had proposed a 2014 deadline to end the government aid but the EU's competition enforcer indicated this week it would agree to extend it by four years.

Germany and Spain had pressed for more time to wind down programmes shoring up their mines in order to ease the social impact of their closures.

The EU ministers meeting in Brussels decided that states would have to gradually phase out subsidies "with a view to facilitating the closure of uncompetitive hard coal mines until December 2018," according to the conclusions.

Some state aid will be permitted until 2027 but only to cover "exceptional" costs related to the closure of the mines, including social welfare benefits and rehabilitation of sites.

The coal industry directly or indirectly employs around 100,000 people in Europe, which is responsible for just 2.5 percent of world coal production.

But the European Commission says the mines are no longer profitable and should no longer receive government aid, which should instead be channelled towards clean and renewable energy.

Council extends state aid regime for the coal sector

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