State aid: Commission clears PLN 7.95 billion Polish support for closing coal mines

The European Commission has found Poland’s plans to provide PLN 7.95 billion (approximately €1.79 billion) of support to alleviate the social and environmental impact of closing uncompetitive coal mines by 2018 to be in line with EU state aid rules. Responsibility for decisions on whether or not to close public coal mines rests with Member States. EU state aid rules, in particular Council Decision 2010/787/EU, allow Member States to support the closure of uncompetitive coal mines in order to alleviate the social and environmental impact. The Commission’s assessment has found that, in line with the Council Decision, the aid aims to ease the closure process by providing financial support totalling PLN 7.58 billion (approximately €1.71 billion) to those workers who have lost, or will lose, their jobs due to the closures. In particular, the state support will fund severance payments, compensatory pensions and social security benefits for these workers. Furthermore, it will be used to secure mine shafts and decommissioning of mine infrastructure, repair damage to the environment caused by mining and re-cultivate land after the mine closures. The remainder of the aid will cover production losses of the mines until closure. The Commission concluded that the support was in line with EU state aid rules.