The Polish government said today that mining at the Turów mine near the Czech border will continue, Reuters reported. The Court of Justice of the European Union today fined Poland half a million euros (12.7 million crowns) a day for failing to stop mining, despite a preliminary court ruling in May.
According to Reuters, the CEO of PGE, which owns the mine, also announced today that he does not agree with the court’s decision on the fine and expects the mine to remain active.
The court issued its preliminary ruling in May on the cessation of mining after a Czech lawsuit, according to which the mine threatens, among other things, drinking water supplies in Czech municipalities.
Brabec considers the sanction imposed for mining to be a significant pressure on Poland
The daily sanction for Poland of half a million euros is perceived by the Minister of the Environment Richard Brabec (YES) as a strong motivation and pressure to stop mining at the Czech border in Turów. “This is clear evidence that the European Court of Justice considers it a serious environmental damage. Half a million euros is not enough,” the minister told reporters in response to today’s decision, according to which Poland should pay a fine of about 12.7 million crowns a day for that it did not stop coal mining. Warsaw is to apply the financial sanction until it obeys the spring court order and the work in the mine ends. The procedure of the Court of Justice of the European Union was also welcomed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Jakub Kulhánek (CSSD). Negotiations will continue, according to both. According to Brabec, this is mainly an agreement on the technical conditions that must be met before any consideration of continuing further mining.
“The procedure was correct, our proposal for sanctions was accepted by the court. At the same time, it rejected the proposal to cancel the preliminary measure to suspend mining. The pirate chairwoman of the House Committee on the Environment, Dana Balcarová, believes that the sanctions will create sufficient pressure on the Polish side in negotiating an agreement with the Czech side. “The agreement should ensure consistent protection of the environment and prevent water loss on the Czech side, which already corresponds to the originally estimated state by 2044, and also prevent threats to the health of Czech citizens,” she said in a press release.
A preliminary decision to stop mining was issued by a court in May after a Czech lawsuit, according to which the mine threatens, among other things, drinking water supplies in Czech municipalities. Poland refused to comply with the order and asked the court to annul it, saying that a sudden cessation of mining could cause an environmental catastrophe and have significant economic consequences for the country. Today, the vice-president of the court, Rosario Silva, rejected the Polish request and decided on the fine. According to the court, it took into account, in particular, that the interim measure was intended to prevent possible serious damage to the environment and human health. Therefore, “Poland should be required to pay a penalty of EUR 500 000 to the (European) Commission for each day from the date of notification of this order to Poland until that Member State has complied with its obligations under the order for interim measures,” the court said.
Brabec emphasized that the court had ruled in favor of the Czech Republic for the second time. The Czech proposal for a ten-fold fine was described today as the maximum amount. “We went there with a maximum amount of five million euros a day. We also consider the amount of 500,000 euros to be very significant, the court could have imposed a much smaller one,” he told ČTK.
In addition to concerns about drinking water, the Czechia based its February lawsuit on the argument that Poland violated the rules for assessing the impact of mine expansion on the environment. The Polish government is defending itself against the lawsuit, but at the same time the expert groups of the two countries are negotiating together a draft intergovernmental agreement that would resolve the dispute.
Greenpeace: The fine for Poland for continuing mining in Turów is low
Sanctions for Poland for failing to stop mining at the Turów lignite mine are too low, Greenpeace said in a press release today. “The court’s decision is clear: Poland must close the Turów mine immediately. When Poland chose to ignore the decision, the consequences must have come in the form of fines. However, the sanctions now imposed by the court are significantly smaller than those requested by the Czech Republic.” said Nikol Krejčová, coordinator of the Greenpeace coal campaign.
“In addition, they are not assessed until today, even though the court decided to stop the mine on May 21. It is disappointing for us that sanctions for disrespecting the court and damaging the environment are so low. The question is whether they will be motivating enough for Poland to mine. it has actually closed, or whether it would rather subsidize mining with money from local taxpayers, “Krejčová added.