Commission demands from Bulgaria ‘exact date’ to end coal

Nearly 100,000 economically active Bulgarians work in industries related to the coal industry. [Shutterstock/ARK NEYMAN]

The European Commission wants a clear plan from Bulgaria to close its coal-fired power plants and ensure that European funding for the regions does not go only to the capital, Sofia. These are the two conditions set by Brussels for consideration of the Bulgarian Recovery Plan and the Partnership Agreement for the 2021-2027 period.

Deputy Prime Minister for European Projects Atanas Pekanov was quoted as saying by Mediapool.bg that Bulgaria was “surprised by the sharp tone of the European institutions for (closing) the coal power plants and the transfer of funds to the Southwest region (excluding the capital Sofia). They do not understand how difficult it is to make a decision in conditions of political uncertainty”.

Bulgaria is highly dependent on coal because it has large deposits. Nearly 40% of electricity comes from coal, 36% is nuclear and 23% renewables. The country is currently ruled by a caretaker government, and the political crisis is leading to a third parliamentary election in a year.

However, the Commission is stepping up the pressure and wants an exact date for the closure of coal-fired power plants, while Bulgaria is reluctant to do so for political reasons.

Nearly 100,000 economically active Bulgarians work in industries related to the coal industry.

By 2030, Bulgaria plans to close 1800 megawatts of coal capacity, but the closure of the three major coal-fired power plants in the Maritsa River basin must take place after 2035. There is no clear deadline for this.

(Krassen Nikolov | EURACTIV.bg)

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