Petr Dubinsky

European Commission joins Czech Lawsuit Against Poland Over Turow Mine

The European Commission will take part in a lawsuit against Poland brought by the Czech Republic before the Court of Justice of the EU over the expansion of mining in the Polish coal mine Turów. 

The Czech authorities filed a lawsuit against the EU judiciary in February. Last month, the court ordered the mining in the mine to stop pending a final judgment. However, Poland has repeatedly stated that it will not suspend operations.

According to Prague, Poland is in breach of EU law by allowing mining to continue at the Turów mine without assessing its environmental impact. According to the Czech authorities, the expansion of the mine threatens, among other things, the quality of drinking water for the inhabitants of the Liberec Region.

“I can now confirm that the commission has submitted its request to appear before the Court today (in this case),” a Reuters spokesman was quoted as saying by a spokesman for the EU executive today.

The Commission’s decision to intervene was welcomed, for example, by the environmental organization Greenpeace. “We are glad that the European Commission has joined the lawsuit,” said Nikol Krejčová from Greenpeace. “It has sent such a clear signal that illegal mining must stop,” she added.

On Monday, the Czech government approved that the environment and foreign ministers negotiate an intergovernmental agreement with Poland regarding the Turów mine. At the same time, according to a government resolution, the Czechia is to propose to the EU Court of Justice to impose a penalty of five million euros (approximately 127 million crowns) per day on Poland, as it did not respect the EU court’s order to suspend work at the mine.

According to Greenpeace, the Czech Republic should now also invite the European Commission to a meeting to increase the chances of reaching a good agreement. “During the negotiations, the Czech Republic and the European Commission may jointly impose conditions that will be difficult for Poland to reject,” Krejčová said.

In a non-legally binding opinion last December, the European Commission concluded that the Polish side was incorrectly assessing the impact of the mine on the environment and had incorrectly informed neighboring states of its intentions.

The Turów mine mainly supplies coal to the neighboring power plant, and the PGE group, which owns the mine and the power plant, wants to mine there by 2044. The mine is expected to expand to 30 square kilometers and the Poles plan to mine to a depth of 330 meters. The planned expansion is mainly opposed by residents of the border areas of the Czech Republic and Germany. People are afraid of increased noise, dust and, above all, water loss.