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Instead of coal, we can mine precious metals!

People want jobs, not handouts

- Mrs. Mihailova, what assessment would you give to the agreed 7 conditions between the government and the energy companies?

- This is a very good start. It is important that the need for a green transition is not denied, but it must be smooth so as not to call into question energy security. The understanding that Bulgaria needs a new energy strategy, an updated climate and energy plan is positive. The addition of employers and for industrial strategy is completely reasonable. The two can go hand in hand because industry is the biggest consumer of energy and it is part of the solution to the problem. Here is an example - the construction industry has been moving steadily in Bulgaria in recent decades. She keeps saying that there are no workers. Talking to this industry in the context of the energy strategy and smooth transition would help both government, unions and individuals.

- That is, to change the habits of the industry in order to derive positives from it? Business and government together to build their strategy?

- Exactly. Making industry an ally of government. The agreement shows the desire to continue the talks and to develop the social side of the problem, which in no case means aid, but a policy to solve social issues. People don't want to receive benefits, they want to work. Let us provide them with jobs - well paid, at least as their labor is paid now, and well positioned socially.

- From whom can we take a positive example regarding the green transition?

- I usually give Poland as an example. Years ago, unions, manufacturers, energy companies, investors, government, local authorities sat down at the same table and an agreement was reached. It involves closing mines and it is already being done, and people are being retrained.

- What professions do they retrain them for?

- The most diverse. Poland addresses the aid to everyone personally. For a person who is about to retire in 2 years, it is probably enough for him to know that he will have a job during that period. And then he will get his pension and all social benefits. When it comes to a young man who has just started in the mines, it is different. Third is for someone who is still wondering where to study or start a job. That's why we need municipalities.

- What enterprises could we replace the closed coal plants with?

- There are many wide possibilities here. In no case would I say that a state-owned enterprise can solve the issue, because it cannot deploy the entire complex of possibilities. That is why I support his removal. What I miss in the agreement is that the municipalities are not included. They expect this to be done at a later stage. Last but not least, it must be said what will be in place of these mines and plants - to have a clear picture in a revised version of the recovery and sustainability plan. If that doesn't happen, we won't be able to use it. Europe is facing a tough challenge with strategically valuable minerals - copper, aluminum, everything needed to make the chips and circuit boards. Bulgaria can develop such mining, it will be supported by the EU. Every such production has a future. Poland is already moving in this direction as well.

- Perhaps it is time to give a forum for wider discussions

- Bulgaria has experts and participates at various levels in the EU and EC. We have a Deputy Director General of the EU Social Policy Directorate. A Bulgarian woman who was not invited to help. The EU has a social climate fund, it should be operational from 2025 and support energy gaps. There are other social programs as well. We have to be flexible, open our eyes wide so as not to miss opportunities. There are many opponents of the Green Pact in Bulgaria, but they should know that the EU will not give up on it, because it is based on a complex of possibilities.


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