In the European Union, power production by means of coal has been phased out in the context of the efforts to decarbonize the economy and become carbon neutral by 2050. This trend has a big impact not only in regions where coal is produced, but also in those regions where coal-fired power plants are located. It is not always the case that coal-fired plants are located where the coal is extracted, sometimes they are located in the nearby of harbours were imported coal could arrive. In our view, both can be designated as “coal regions”. Phasing out coal has an impact on the economy of those regions, in general, and on jobs, in particular. In this paper, we analyse the various instruments designed by both the European Union and Spain to compensate the damaged experienced by coal regions. These compensations are considered to be part of the so called fair (or just) energy transition.
In Section 1 we briefly explain the former legal framework for aids to the coal sector in the European Union. In Section 2 we analyse the recently created Just Transition Fund, and in Section 3 we examine the Spanish coal sector as well as the recent 2021 Spanish Act on Climate Change and Energy Transition, in particular its provisions about the fair (or just) transition which has a particular focus in the future of those regions were coal-fired power stations were located. We explain how the Spanish policy has shifted in this area. In Section 4 we briefly summarize the foreseeable conclusions of our research.