EU must help Poland wean itself off coal: Timmermans

FILE PHOTO: European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans attends a weekly college meeting of the EU executive in Brussels, Belgium, April 30, 2019. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland needs to reduce the use of coal but the European Union should help with the transition, the European Commission’s First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said on Monday.

The transition away from coal, a major employer in southern Poland, is a divisive issue in central Europe’s largest economy. Lawmakers from the ruling Law and Justice party have said steps to remove it would lead to higher energy bills for households.

“We want to make this a transition that works for Polish workers. We have to have a plan and have to have a lot of European money too,” Timmermans said at the Association of Polish Trade Unions.

“The European Union should come up with a solid plan to help especially Poland and Slovakia make this transition away from coal.”

Poland has some of the worst air pollution in Europe and the leader of the largest opposition party has said the country should eliminate the use of coal for heating households within 10 years.

Reporting by Joanna Plucinska; Writing by Alan Charlish; Editing by Dale Hudson