The Romanian government has announced the closure of two of the four coal mines still active in its Jiu Valley, starting in 2024.
To avoid hardship and ease the phasing out of coal, the European Commission’s Green Deal has a multi-billion-euro support package; the Just Transition Mechanism.
Coal still plays a role in 108 regions of the European Union, with an estimated 240,000 people working in this sector.
For the coming seven years, the European Commission has earmarked around €40 billion of the EU budget directly for coal regions in transition. This will be topped by a further €150 billion from public and private investors.
In Romania, the Jiu Valley’s future could be in other, more sustainable businesses.
Marius Surlea's company develops electric charging stations, which Europe is in need of. The former mining engineer launched his company with three people, but now employs 65 and is still expanding.
Technical know-how has been deeply rooted in the valley for generations, which provides a real competitive advantage for both local start-ups and investors from abroad.
Surlea, CEO of EuroElectric, explained: "The development of our company was based on the qualified workforce from the mining sector here, and, on top of that, thanks to the young people coming from the local university."
As well as sustainable businesses, there are plans in the pipeline to transform former industrial sites in for the Jiu Valley, like the abandoned coal mine of Petrila, to make them into major tourist attractions.
The plans include an international art exhibition with leisure facilities and an industrial museum.