The German hard coal industry is not competitive, mainly because of geologically-related high production costs. An agreement was therefore reached in 2007 between the Federal Government, the hard coal-producing Federal States of North Rhine-Westphalia and Saarland, the RAG AG (the largest German coal mining corporation based in the Ruhr region) and the Mining, Chemical and Energy Industrial Trade Union (IG BCE) that the subsidised hard coal industry would be terminated in socially-responsible manner by the year 2018. The agreement was based on the Hard Coal Mining Financing Law of December 20, 2007 and on a framework agreement between the Federal Govern- ment, the hard coal-producing Federal States, the RAG AG and the IG BCE. The public sector grants temporary aid to promote sales (balancing the difference between domestic production costs and the world market price) and to cope with the necessary decommissioning measures. The subsidies are gradually reduced and ultimately cycled out, a move that also addresses climate protection and resource conservation.
In 2018, the amount of Federal aid for the sales of hard coal and the shutdown of mines amounted to €967.3 million. The Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia provided more financial aid. The sales and shutdown aid promised to the hard coal mining industry was degressive. Between 1998 and 2005, Federal subsidies were cut by approx. 50% – and they were again reduced by 25% between 2006 and 2014. Deviations from the declining trend of subsidi- sation are based on the fluctuating world market prices for hard coal (inter alia).
To cope with the necessary decommissioning activities, the private-law RAG Foundation is making the former investment assets of the RAG AG available to finance the remaining perpetual burdens following the closure of the mines (burdens such as mine water drainage, permanent land subsidence and groundwater purification). If these assets are not sufficient to cover the perpetual burdens, the Federal Government and the hard coal-producing Federal States will provide subsidies at a ratio of one-third to two-thirds respectively.
Subsidies for the sale and closure of German hard coal from 2014 to 2018 (Federal Government amounts)
The number of employees is declining. At the beginning of 2008, 32,803 persons were employed in hard coal mining. By the end of 2018 the number of employees had been reduced to 3,349 employees. The number of persons entitled to adaptation payment is following this reduction trend, albeit with a time lag. Since more employees will be retiring after the last mine closures at the end of 2018 and a declining number of employees will still be needed after 2018 to complete the closure of mines, the current adaptation payment guidelines will still apply until 2027.
In addition to the monitoring of the intended use of funds by the German Federal Office of Economics and Export Control in cooperation with external auditors, the German Federal Audit Office also reviews individual adaptation payment on the basis of random samples within the framework of the Federal Office’s annual budget review.
Adaption Payment (Anpassungsgeld) 2014-2018 (Federal Governments amounts)
Extractive companies can also receive non-specific, non-extractive public grants if they meet the relevant criteria of the financial support programmes. Financial support can be given in the form of grants, loans or debt service assistance, with the majority of grants today consisting of subsidies. Loans granted directly from the Federal budget have been less important for some time. This is also due to the fact that the Federal Government uses financial institutions for lending, which usually receive an interest subsidy for implementing the programme. The Federal Government’s subsidy report provides information on these grants, including their scope and funding objectives. The report does not contain information on the amount of grants paid to individual beneficiaries.
The name of the beneficiary, the amount and purpose of the state aid and its legal basis. If companies in the extractive sector receive state aid exceeding the threshold (e. g. in the form of reduced-price loans), the information about the aid is publicly disclosed.
There are various tax concessions for both electricity and energy taxes, including tax exemptions, tax reductions and tax relief. The Electricity Taxation Act (StromStG) provides for certain types of use, or electricity generation. The Energy Taxation Act (EnergieStG) also covers uses in which energy products are tax- favoured. A part of these concessions is mandatory under the Energy Tax Directive (EU) 2003/96/EC of October 27, 2003.
As production industry companies, extractive sector enterprises can particularly profit from the different tax relief possibilities provided by energy and electricity tax legislation.
- Tax relief for companies (§ 54 EnergieStG, § 9 b StromStG):
If a production industry company applies for electricity and energy tax concessions and its application is approved, it is granted a reduction of 25% of the tax rates on electricity, heating and the fuels used in its production facilities eligible for tax concession.
- Tax relief in the form of so-called peak compensation (§ 55 EnergieStG, § 10 StromStG):
The additional burden of the “ecological tax reform” on production industry companies is lightened by a reduction in their energy and electricity taxes. Since the increase in revenues generated by the ecological tax reform also served to reduce the factor of “work” and contributed to companies paying less for employers’ contributions to pension insurance schemes in comparison to 1999, a comparative peak compensation calculation is carried out for companies in question. In order to avoid double relief for the employers’ pension insurance as well as for the energy used, saved pension contributions are taken into account in the calculation of the tax relief. The amount of relief is therefore calculated individually depending on the company, and is also capped at a maximum of 90% of the electricity tax paid and 90% of the tax share pursuant to § 55(3) of the EnergieStG. Prerequisites for claiming peak compensation are, among other things, evidence of a certified energy management system and an annual energy intensity reduction (by a statutory value) achieved by all the plants of the production industry company. The comparative value is the average energy intensity value for production industry companies between 2007 and 2012.
- Certain processes and procedures/manufacturer privilege (§ 9a StromStG, § 51 EnergieStG, §§ 26, 37, 44 and 47 EnergieStG):
Companies in the manufacturing industry can use electricity or energy products for specific, energy- intensive purposes (such as electrolysis, metal production, manufacture of glassware, etc.) and reduce their tax bills by 100%. In addition, companies that produce energy products on their own premises (refineries, gas extraction and coal mining companies) can use these self-produced energy products tax-free (or obtain tax relief) for the purposes of maintaining operations within their own companies.
The subsidy report of the Federal Government contains the total subsidies for the entire production industry; they are not shown separately for each sector such as the extractive sector. If the benefits in the area of electricity and energy taxation are state aid, the notification and transparency obligations defined by the European Union for state aid apply.
In Germany, tax concessions are published in accordance with the regulation on the implementation of publication, information and transparency obligations under EU law in the Energy Tax and Electricity Tax Ordinance (EnSTransV). Under this regulation, the customs administration may collect, process, store, transmit and delete data relating to energy and electricity tax concessions. These data are available on the European Commission’s state aid website3.
1 A comparable adaptation payments model is also envisaged to cushion the social consequences of the coal phase-out. For more detailed information on the coal phase-out see Legal framework
4only benefits exceeding €500,000 per year, company and reason for the benefit; information given for 2018, accessed on November 24, 2020
5 Classification in the European Union State Aid Register is based on the following increments (€0.5-€1 million; €1-€2 million; €2-€5 million; €5-€10 million; €10-€30 million; > €30 million), the lower and upper limits are therefore shown.