In April 2016 Spain notified plans to grant public support to the operators of 26 coal mines that are due to be shut down until 2018. The aid aims to ease the closure process by covering production losses of the mines until closure. It will also provide financial support to those workers, who have lost or will lose their jobs due to the closures, by funding severance payments and social security benefits. Furthermore, it will finance the safety and remediation works necessary after the mine closures.
The Commission concluded that the plans are in line with EU state aid rules, in particular Council Decision 2010/787/EU. This allows Member States to cover production losses and certain exceptional costs arising from the closure of uncompetitive coal mines, in order to alleviate the social and environmental impact. This requires in particular that mines receiving such aid must be wound down by the end of 2018 at the latest.
The Spanish authorities have given a commitment to recover any aid from mines that have not been closed by that date.
In December 2010, the Council of the European Union adopted Council Decision 2010/787/EU on state aid to facilitate the closure of uncompetitive coal mines. Under the Decision state support to the coal industry is only allowed to facilitate the closure of a mine by covering production losses and exceptional costs resulting from the closure. The Decision was adopted against the backdrop of the EU policy of encouraging renewable energy sources and a sustainable and safe low-carbon economy and the diminishing role of indigenous coal in the overall energy mix of EU Member States.
Closure aid can cover operational losses subject to certain limits and must be based on an agreed closure plan. The Council Decision requires that a mine receiving closure aid must be wound down by the end of 2018 at the latest.
Aid to cover exceptional costs resulting from closure activities can be paid out even after the closure until 2027 and must also be based on an agreed closure plan.
The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.34332 in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of state aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the State Aid Weekly e-News.