The Research Fund for Coal and Steel (RFCS) co-finances through grants research and innovation projects in the areas of coal and steel. Every year, the fund supports projects at universities, research centres, and private companies.
RFCS is a EU funding programme supporting research projects in the coal and steel sectors. The RFCS has its own legal bases and stands outside the Multiannual Financial Framework. It is funded via the revenues generated by the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in liquidation assets, which are exclusively devoted to research in the sectors related to the coal and steel industry, in accordance with the provisions of Protocol (37) to the Treaties.
On 16 July 2020, the Commission adopted a package of proposals to revise the three legal bases regulating the Research Programme of the Research Fund for Coal and Steel.
On 19 July 2021, the EU adopted the new RFCS package. This modernisation act will enable the fund to use a portion of the assets of the European Steel and Coal Community (ECSC) in liquidation for the period 2021-27 in order to provide an annual RFCS allocation of € 111 million.
The Commission has the mandate, through its budgetary services, to manage the assets of the ECSC in liquidation.
This will contribute towards the funding of large clean steelmaking research and innovation breakthrough projects, leading to near zero-carbon steel making by 2030; and research projects for the coal sector, to assist the just transition of formerly operating coal mines or coal mines in the process of closure, and related infrastructure in line with the Just Transition Mechanism.
Specifically to the sector related to the steel industry, the Commission will aim to support research projects via a dedicated Clean Steel co-programmed partnership in synergy with other European Union’s programmes, especially with Horizon Europe.
RFCS funded projects will cover:
The European Partnership for Clean Steel has been officially launched on 24 June 2021, with the ceremony for the signature of a memorandum of understanding, during the third edition of the EU R&I days.
The Clean Steel Partnership will support research and innovation activities from the pilot to the demonstration phase of breakthrough technologies for carbon neutral steel production.
The Clean Steel Partnership relies on funds’ synergies to € 700 million coming in equal parts from Horizon Europe and assets of the European Coal and Steel Community in liquidation.
The RFCS research programme, is increasing its involvement in tackling climate and environmental-related challenges in line with the European Green Deal, presented by the Commission in December 2019.
One of the key actions in the roadmap annexed to the Communication on the European Green Deal is the proposal to support zero carbon steel-making processes by 2030.
According to the European Green Deal, “further decarbonising the energy system is critical to reach climate objectives in 2030 and 2050. The decarbonisation of the energy system also entails a rapid phasing out of coal and decarbonising gas.”
Energy efficiency must be prioritised.
The fund is managed by the Commission in cooperation with the following committees and advisory groups.