EU coal nations win fight for subsidies to 2018

BRUSSELS Fri Dec 10, 2010 10:01am EST

An aerial view shows excavators mine coal at the open-cast mining near Vattenfall's Jaenschwalde brown coal power station near Cottbus, eastern Germany August 8, 2010. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

An aerial view shows excavators mine coal at the open-cast mining near Vattenfall's Jaenschwalde brown coal power station near Cottbus, eastern Germany August 8, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Germany and other European coal-mining nations secured an extension of coal subsidies until 2018 after a months-long battle against environmentalists.

The European Commission, the EU's executive, had proposed in July that the coal mining industry should only get four more years of state aid before subsidies are phased out in 2014, the sixth such extension of state aid since 1965.

But with thousands of jobs on the line, Germany led other coal-mining countries such as Spain in pushing hard to extend subsidies to 2018, to fit around Berlin's own national laws.

That battle was settled between EU ambassadors and commissioners at two meetings in Brussels on Wednesday, with Germany getting its way.

The deal was rubber stamped by ministers on Friday.

(Reporting by Pete Harrison)

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