Opposition warns new coal licences will deprive Silesia of EU funds

The head of Poland's main opposition party has attacked the government for issuing new coal mining licences and warned that this could deprive Silesia province of billions of EU funds.

Located in southern Poland Silesia is the heart of the Polish coalfields along with being a major industrial base.

"While offering new licences for coal extraction, the government has been risking billions of euros for Silesia from the Just Transition Fund," Borys Budka, the leader of Civic Platform (PO), said in the southern town of Mysłowice on Friday.

Budka also called on the government to withdraw the licences "in the name of public interest."

The Just Transition Fund, a new instrument with an overall budget of EUR 17.5 billion, is a key element in the European Green Deal and the first pillar of the Just Transition Mechanism (JTM). It aims to alleviate the social and economic costs resulting from the transition towards a climate-neutral economy.

Having stated that the Just Transition Fund was a chance for Silesia, Budka said that "unfortunately, the government has issued a coal mining licence for a new mine in Myslowice, and extraction till after 2050."

The PO leader claimed that this was an irresponsible decision based could make Silesia lose at least EUR 1 billion.

"The fund is an opportunity for clean air in Silesia, for the revitalisation of former mining sites, and for a just energy transition. Today, all this has been endangered since this government has issued a permit for coal extraction to continue till after 2050," he said.

Some EUR 2.66 billion is earmarked for Silesia as part of the Just Transition Fund for the years 2021-2027.

According to a director at the Office of the Silesian Province Assembly Speaker, the European Commission believes that the area where the new mine is due to open could be deprived of funds.

"Even a plan to open such a mine can be a reason for the European Commission to block access to funds," Malgorzata Stas was quoted as saying.