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Coal: Exports

Volume 477: debated on Thursday 12 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assessment he has made of the impact on exports of British coal of other EU member states’ coal industry state aids; and if he will make a statement. (209144)

In 2007, total UK coal production was approximately 17 million tonnes, predominantly of coal-fired electricity generation quality, the bulk of which was used within the UK. UK coal exports were under 0.6 million tonnes; this is understood to have included shipments to Ireland and Norway.

The 27 European Union states import annually in the order of 120 million tonnes of coal from third countries for generation use.

Total UK coal imports in 2007 were approximately 43 million tonnes, of which 22 million tonnes was from Russia and 12 million tonnes from South Africa. With regard to trade with other coal producing EU member states, 852,000 tonnes were imported from Poland, 46,000 tonnes from Spain and 41,000 tonnes from Germany.

The impact of coal state aids under Council Regulation 1407/2002 on the coal market was considered as part of the report COM(2007)253 which, with its annex SEC(2007) 602, was published by the European Commission on 21 May 2007. This concluded that distortion of the coal market within the EU as a result of such aids seems to be limited by the fact that most subsidized coal covered by the Regulation is consumed in national markets, and that this suggests that there is little direct competition between coal produced in different member states. A possible exception is Germany, which has replaced parts of its indigenous production with imports from Poland and the Czech Republic.