The European Commission has decided, on the initiative of Mr. Christos Papoutsis, Commissioner responsible for energy, to grant ECU 29 million as financial aid to 31 coal research projects in the context of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) Coal Research Programme. These research projects contribute to the efficient protection of the environment, the improvement of public understanding of the role of coal as an energy source, health and safety in mines, the improvement of the competitive position of coal and the rational utilization of Community energy resources. A total of 80 proposals were submitted to the Commission for the 1997 Coal Research programme, mainly of a collaborative nature, for research on certain specific topics in the fields of mining engineering and coal utilization. These proposals were studied and examined by the Commission's services, assisted by expert committees and independent consultants, and with the collaboration of the Coal Research Committee. In evaluating the proposals priority was given to those that corresponded most closely to the criteria defined in the Medium-Term Guidelines for Technical Coal Research (1994-1999). Account was also taken of the requirement to allocate a part of the budget to research having a specific impact on the environment, of the Community character of the projects, and their integration into research actions undertaken at national or Community level. In total, a sum of ECU 14 million will be granted to projects having an environmental impact. In particular, several research projects will help to control acid pollution (sulphur and nitrogen oxides) from coal combustion, and to develop advanced coal burning technologies that can reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Pollution in coking plants will also be addressed. Furthermore, environmental methods for coal mine prospection and for treatment of acid effluents in mines will be developed. An award of ECU 4 million will be granted to technical research projects having a positive impact on health and security of mine workers. The selected 31 projects have been granted a total of ECU 28,704,452 in financial aid and an amount of ECU 295,548 will be used to cover the dissemination of research results.