Europese Commissie akkoord met Slowaakse staatssteun aan kolenmijnen tussen 2005 en 2010 (en)

woensdag 25 januari 2006

The European Commission has decided today not to raise any objections to the SKK 525 million (€ 13.9 millions) aid which Slovakia is proposing to grant to mining company Hornonitrianske Bane Prievidza a.s. (HBP) in the years 2005 to 2010 for initial investments. The aid is compatible with the proper functioning of the common market.

Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs i underlined the importance of domestic coal production for the security of energy supply within the European Union. At the same time, he stressed the importance that mines become more efficient. The subsidy system chosen by Slovakia, i.e. for initial investment and not operating costs, is particularly well suited to reach that target.

The payment gives an economic advantage to the mining company HPB. However, the Commission has come to the conclusion that the proposed aid measure respects the provisions of the Council Regulation on State aid to the coal industry [1] as it does not exceed 30% of the foreseen investment costs, and that it is therefore compatible with the proper functioning of the common market.

Overall situation of the Slovak coal industry

Currently, Slovakia has three coal mining enterprises, Ba?a Záhorie a.s., producing 350 000 tons of coal per year, Hornonitrianske Bane Prievidza a.s., producing 2 544 000 tons of coal per year, and Ba?a Dolina a.s., producing 227 000 tons of coal per year (2003 figures). The mine Ba?a Záhorie a.s is temporarily closed since February 2005. All three mines are currently going through a process of restructuring and rationalisation. Slovakia does not export any coal, but is importing about 20% of its needs from Czech Republic.

[1] Council Regulation (EC) No 1407/2002 of 23 July 2002 on State aid to the coal industry, OJ L.205, p.1, 2.8.2002