Athens claims advantage over Poland on Just Transition Mechanism

Mitsotakis: "Warsaw does not have the right to request funds because it is not prepared to fulfill the commitments that all other EU countries have made". [Photo by Sarantis Michalopoulos]

The Greek government plans to take advantage of Poland staying away from the new Green Deal to push forward its own priorities since the very start of the talks about the Just Transition Fund, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said.

“We have an advantage: we will be able to be first to put forward our demands regarding the Just Transition Mechanism,” Mitsotakis said.

EU leaders, except for Poland, last week adopted the Commission’s new Green Deal, while Warsaw maintained its objections to the climate-neutral target for the time being.

Poland decided to follow its “own pace”, according to European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, but Warsaw has until June to make a final decision.

French President Emmanuel Macron has warned that Poland would not be eligible for EU funds available under the European Green Deal if it does not sign up to the EU’s climate objectives.

And for Greece, this presents an opportunity, according to the Greek premier. “Warsaw does not have the right to request funds because it is not prepared to fulfil the commitments that all other EU countries have made,” Mitsotakis added.

Speaking at recent EURACTIV event, Marc Lemaître, director-general for regional and urban policy at the European Commission, said new the Just Transition Mechanism would focus “on the communities and people who will face the biggest challenge in terms of job losses because of the necessary energy transition.”

The EU official cited western Macedonia as “an extreme case” to illustrate his point. The Northern Greek region directly depends on coal – mining and power plants – for one-third of its GDP, he pointed out. And the Greek government has decided to close down all the plants “before 2030” as part of its climate commitments, he said.

“We will make western Macedonia a role model region in the transition from lignite to clean energy and a different economic activity,” Mitsotakis emphasised.

The conservative politician said the lignite plants that will shut down in western Macedonia are old and have completely outdated technology that is not economically viable today.

“It’s been an imperative decision not only for environmental but also economic reasons,” Mitsotakis added.

Besides western Macedonia, Peloponnese is also expected to benefit from the Transition Mechanism, but to a smaller extent.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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