The Platform for Coal Regions in Transition was launched in December 2017, as part of the Coal and Carbon-Intensive Regions in Transition Initiative of the Clean Energy for All Europeans Package. The aim of the Platform is to provide support for regions heavily involved in fossil fuel industries and provide opportunities for national, regional, and local representatives and EU staff to discuss how these regions can best decarbonise their economies. In March this year I wrote to Commissioner Canete requesting that Ireland’s Midlands region be included in the Platform. At the most recent meeting of the Platform, in July, the European Commission announced that the Midlands region has now been included in the Platform.
Membership of the Platform enables the Midlands region to avail of the support of a dedicated Country Team, comprised of Commission experts, to assist with the development of strategies and projects for the region, focusing in particular on the employment challenges faced by workers affected by decarbonisation. While no new EU funds have so far been set up under this initiative, the Country Team will assist in identifying appropriate EU funding opportunities for the Midlands.
My Department is in discussions with the EU Commission in relation to the establishment of the dedicated Country Team, and also to define the areas to be included as part of the Midlands region in the context of the Platform. For the purposes of accessing the support of the Platform, the position of my Department is that the Midlands region will include all areas in the Midlands affected by the transition away from peat harvesting.