site.btaGERB-UDF MPs, PM Denkov Clash Over Territorial Just Transition Plans for Coal Regions in Bulgaria
GERB-UDF MPs called on the government on Wednesday to amend the Territorial Just Transition Plans (TJTPs) for the coal regions in Bulgaria as soon as possible. They concern the regions of Stara Zagora, Pernik and Kyustendil.
The TJTPs have been postponed by the government for adoption on Friday, a quick public discussion is being organised without notifying the interested parties, although they had months to do so, GERB-UDF MP Krassimir Valchev told an emergency briefing in Parliament.
Valchev described some of the written text of the TJTPs as "scandalous", saying it includes a list of companies to be supported by the TJTPs, without specification on how these companies were selected. According to him, "behind these companies are the names of sponsors of Continue the Change - Democratic Bulgaria" and there are no intentions to invest in transitional technologies to prolong the life of the Maritsa East complex (Stara Zagora, southeast Bulgaria).
He stressed that extending coal-fired power plants' life does not contradict the transition, but is a condition for it. If by 2026, two-thirds of people working in these regions will be laid off, two-thirds of capacities will be closed, 90% by 2030, people will take their unemployment benefits and no hydrogen valleys will happen, the regions will turn into "economic deserts", Valchev said.
The government is preparing to give away EUR 1.706 billion, as written in the TJTPs, to companies no one knows where they come from, whether they have participated in a tender at all, and how they were chosen, GERB-UDF MP and Energy Committee Chairman Delyan Dobrev said.
If the government does not extend power plants' life, does not speed up negotiations with the European Commission, the production of electricity in Bulgaria will be alarmingly low, former energy minister Temenuzhka Petkova said. She noted that the plants provide 46% of the country's energy and up to 60% in winter.
Later in the day, Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov commented on GERB-UDF's criticism on the government's decisions by saying that their "statements outright lie to people about what this (TJTPs) is about".
Denkov noted that already on August 15, 2023, the procedure for declaration of intent was left open to all who were interested, following an EC requirement. He added that the companies included in TJTPs' lists showed intention to invest in the regions and open job places.
Denkov said: "First of all, the programmes are yet to open for applications. This will happen next year. Secondly, this is not about money that these companies will receive, but about investments that need to be made by these companies, perhaps with co-financing, in these regions to provide jobs."