This policy report has a two-fold purpose: First, it takes stock of the current European political framework, which influences the pending low-carbon transition of Europe’s industry and the policy measures in place to intercept the various anticipated adverse effects on the social and economic performance of high-carbon industry regions. Understanding the current political framework is necessary to fully comprehend and appreciate the current dynamics regarding industry transition and just transition on the European level, which is the second purpose of this report. The European Green Deal proposed by the new European Commission under President Ursula von der Leyen is discussed as an attempt to integrate various policy areas and re-direct policy efforts to climate and sustainability mainstreaming. It is a very ambitious project and only time will tell if the Commission can deliver on the promise of a climate-neutral Europe by 2050.
As such, this policy report is a follow-up to a working paper developed last year that reflects on the main challenges high-carbon industry regions are facing. These are regions with an economy that is built around the extraction and burning of fossil fuels – in particular coal – to provide a reliable, constant and cheap source of energy. Coal and carbon-intensive regions face important challenges when it comes to successfully coping with structural change: the development of effective regional innovation systems, the development of capacities to handle transition, and the political will (on all levels of the European system) to drive this Transition.