Restructuring of the Coal Industries in the Economies in Transition – An Overview of the Last Decade
The coal industries of the economies in transition have faced a difficult evolution since 1989 when the coal industry reforms commenced in central and easternEurope and the Commonwealth of Independent States. Reforming the coal industries in this region has proved perhaps the most difficult task of the entire economic reforms, not least because of the industry's significant historical legacy and also the social and regional implications of market-oriented reforms. The coal sector has undoubtedly faced an unfavourable environment arising from a host of adverse factors, including decreased coal demand, a more competitive energy regulatory framework, gradual withdrawal of state support from the industry, and complex social, employment and environmental issues. To contribute to a better understanding of this complex restructuring process, to identify progress made and to evaluate how the industry has evolved the UNECE has collected and analysed a representative data set for the period 1990 to 2000. The restructuring process has placed a heavy burden on the national budgets of these countries and the role of the World Bank in providing financial and technical assistance to a number of the transition economies has been significant. Western Europe has also experienced a major reduction in its domestic coal industry, both in terms of production and employment levels and, whilst recognising that the situation faced in each country is often unique, is able to offer valuable experience to the economies in transition. Progress has clearly being made in the coal industries of the economies in transition in terms of viability, efficiency and social-acceptability, however the size of the adjustment and financial resources still required poses a significant challenge to both the national governments and the coal companies. The dependence of the restructuring process on foreign direct investment makes its course and length unpredictable.