17 May 2019, 13:23
Benjamin Wehrmann

Germany’s economy ministry presents key points for coal region support

The German economy and energy ministry (BMWi) has presented its main fields of action for the economic restructuring of coal mining regions amid Germany’s coal exit, which a government-appointed commission in January decided should occur no later than 2038. The ministry says its key points follow the commission’s recommendation “to first start with supporting structural economic change [in the regions] and to initiate the coal phase-out after that.” In a document sent to relevant ministries the BMWi states that the federal government will provide the regions with up to 40 billion euros over the next 20 years and with an ad-hoc programme worth 240 million euros. The ministry also said that the federal government is working on a “coal region investment act”, which will endow the regions with up to 14 billion euros “for particularly important investments” and which the federal states can use on their own authority. The remainder of up to 26 billion euros will be earmarked for investments in transport and research infrastructure. In turn, the states are urged to “actively support the societal consensus on the coal exit”. Moreover, the BMWi is working on an “advanced European aid framework” that allows stronger support of regions with declining economic value creation. Economy minister Peter Altmaier said his ministry’s proposal would lay the foundation for job creation in the coal regions. “We support entrepreneurial investments, infrastructure expansion and the location of federal agencies and research institutions,” Altmaier said, adding that people in coal regions had a right to planning security as quickly as possible. The federal government will decide on the ministry’s proposal on 22 May.

Germany’s planned coal exit is expected to cause billions of euros in costs for the public, as the country’s coal exit commission agreed on far-reaching measures to financially assist the affected regions and coal workers and to invest in dozens of infrastructure and training projects. The government has said it aims to maintain the mining areas as “energy regions” and to develop corresponding infrastructure for the production and storage of energy from renewable sources.

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