The Just Transition Mechanism (JTM) is a regional development programme of the European Union (EU) aiming to support decarbonisation in those regions whose economy depends on the production or consumption of fossil fuels. Spearheaded by the €19.5 billion investments of the Just Transition Fund (JTF), the JTM is supposed to be operative between 2021 and 2027 to create new low-emission economic activities and reskill workers currently employed in fossil fuels-related sectors. Its intervention is expected to diversify the economy of target regions and end their dependency on fossil fuels.

As of 2022, the implementation of the JTM is at the initial phase. In order to access funding, Member States must prepare dedicated planning documents called Territorial Just Transition Plans (TJTPs) for their regions that depend on fossil fuels. The TJTPs must justify the need for investments in those regions and outline a clear pathway for the phasing out of fossil fuels and the launch of new green economic activities. EU Member States have been preparing their TJTPs across 2020 and 2021. Throughout 2022, the European Commission is reviewing and approving the TJTPs to start financing the transitions they outline.

As for all planning documents for territorial cohesion funds of the EU, the TJTPs are supposed to comply with the partnership principle. This principle requires the national governments to prepare and manage their plans with input and support from local authorities, businesses, social actors and civil society representatives. Since the economic restructuring envisaged in the TJTPs will have long-lasting effects on the targeted communities, a strong implementation of the partnership principle is fundamental to make sure the people living in these communities are engaged in the decisions on their future from start to end.

In particular, young people aged 16-29, as the next generations to live in those territories, have a central role to play in the development of TJTPs and the visions these plans outline – a role that is recognised and actively promoted by the EU itself. However, GCE and Bankwatch’s first report on the state of youth engagement in the JTM from May 2022 has (link) found that youth engagement has been generally dissatisfactory in the 12 EU countries included in our assessment. Some form of specific youth engagement could be found only in 7 countries, and in most cases the formats were not sufficient to gather a meaningful input to the TJTPs from the youth that were involved.

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