EU funds of €90M for regions hit by closure of Matosinhos refinery, Pego, Sines coal-fired power plants

  • Lusa
  • 30 November 2021

At stake are funds from the Fair Transition Fund (FTJ), created by the European Union to respond to the impact of energy reconversion, and which provides Portugal with €242 million.

The government will bring forward €90 million of European funds planned for 2022 for the regions affected by the closure of the Matosinhos refinery and the Pego and Sines coal-fired power plants, said Minister Ana Abrunhosa.

At stake are funds from the Fair Transition Fund (FTJ), created by the European Union to respond to the impact of energy reconversion, and which provides Portugal with €242 million, the Minister of Territorial Cohesion, Ana Abrunhosa told Lusa.

Of this amount, 90 million will be advanced immediately, using funds from the State Budget, according to an order published on Monday by the government.

Ana Abrunhosa explained that €30 million will be advanced by each of the regions that will benefit from the FTJ: Metropolitan Area of Porto, because of the closure of the Matosinhos refinery last April; Médio Tejo, in the Central Region, where today the Pego thermoelectric power plant, in the municipality of Abrantes, which ran on coal, closes; and the Alentejo coast, due to the closure of the Sines coal-fired thermoelectric power plant.

In total, €45 million are planned for Médio Tejo/Pego, 60 million for Norte/Matosinhos and 74 million for Alentejo Litoral/Sines under this fund, which should be approved by Brussels in the first quarter of 2022. For the Centre coast there is another package of €45 million planned for the Aveiro, Coimbra and Leiria region, because of the “ceramics and glass industries, which also need to make the energy transition”, explained Ana Abrunhosa.

The funds aim to support workers most directly affected by the closure and reconversion of Pego, Matosinhos and Sines, but also to stimulate investment and economic diversification in these areas, said the Minister of Territorial Cohesion, who will be today with the Prime Minister, António Costa, and the Minister of Environment and Climate Action, João Matos Fernandes, in Abrantes to present the objectives and terms of this anticipation of funds in the case of the Médio Tejo.

“This anticipation of the Fair Transition Fund has two objectives: to support the workers that are affected. Some of the workers from Pego Power Plant will be dismantling the unit, others will go for training, and the idea here is to provide tailor-made vocational training, to retrain workers, to support companies that want to hire them, and to support workers who want to set up their own business”, said Ana Abrunhosa.

Then, to achieve a second goal, a call for tenders will be published today which “allows companies to submit investment proposals for the area of Médio Tejo” that may be supported with FTJ funds: “Projects that contribute to absorb the workers that will now be released by the closure of Pego Power Plant” and that “correspond to investment in areas such as sustainable mobility, renewable energy, circular economy, bio-economy or other clean technologies.

In the other regions benefiting from this fund, the channelling of funds to training and retraining of workers and “support for the diversification of the economic base” will be maintained, the minister said.

“Afterwards, there may be other projects that we will support, but then already with the Fair Transition Fund approved [by the European Commission],” she added, saying that “the destination and form of attribution of the funds will depend on the identification of needs from region to region” and that the Government has been working with the Abrantes, Matosinhos and Sines councils, with Porto Metropolitan Area and with the inter-municipal communities of Médio Tejo and Alentejo coast.

The FTJ is included in the Portugal 2030 Regional Operational Programmes, which must be submitted to the European Commission by the end of the year and then “will be negotiated in January/February”, explained Ana Abrunhosa.