The first billions go to the coalfields for a fundamental change

It is common for the mentioned areas to have been dominated by coal mining in the past. Other municipalities in the Moravian-Silesian, Ústí and Karlovy Vary regions are in a similar position. For them, moving away from coal risks job losses and a further exodus of talent. Why is money flowing to them from the European Just Transition Fund, the so-called Green Deal for Europe?

“We have to align the starting line,” declared Environment Minister Petr Hladic (KDU-ČSL). According to him, the goal is to support projects that maintain or even better increase the number of jobs in the specified regions or take care of the development of business, culture or research.

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The state government has already approved the first fund. So far, he has approved support of 13.9 billion crowns. So far, 1.1 billion has been disbursed. A total of 39.4 billion is available under the scheme. So far, companies or institutions have applied for less than 31 billion.

A third of the less than 11 billion goes to public sector projects, mainly regions and municipalities. Nearly 10 billion was claimed by the education sector, while the same amount would fall to private institutions. Nonprofits want grants for half a billion.

“Strategic plans are often a complex of many activities. From hard investments to research and development,” said Peter Waldmann, director of the State Environment Fund, outlining the reason why things are moving at different speeds. “We earmarked funds for final project preparation in 2021 and early 2022. Those who availed the opportunity are now far away,” he added.

The Just Transformation Fund has received funding till 2027 so far. The Czech Republic is currently debating what happens next at the European level. During a debate at the Council of the European Union, Hladic called on other environment ministers to support the continuation of the fund.

“I don't want to shout it, but I think we can push to make Just Transformation a sustainable program,” Hladic said.

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