Czechia meets Poland at EU Court after bilateral talks failed

Czech villages near the open-pit lignite mine suffer from water shortages and have called on Poland to solve or halt the mining. [EPA-EFE/Aleksander Kozminski]

Czechia and Poland failed to agree on a deal that would have led to the withdrawal of a lawsuit concerning coal mine Turów located at Czech-Polish borders. Representatives of the two neighbouring countries will now meet on Tuesday at the European Court of Justice for the first hearing.

Czechia brought the case to the EU Court after Polish authorities extended the mining license for Turów despite Czech disagreement. Czech villages near the open-pit lignite mine suffer from water shortages and have called on Poland to solve or halt the mining. The EU Court has already ordered Poland to stop mining in its preliminary measure, but Poland refused to follow the ruling.

Czech authorities are willing to withdraw the lawsuit under several conditions that were drafted in a proposed deal. The draft seen by EURACTIV.cz includes a €50 million payment to “fully address the impacts of exploitation at the Turów mine on the territory of the Czech Republic”.

Moreover, Czechia asked Poland to construct a groundwater barrier, earth mound and provide better monitoring of local air quality, noise, and water levels to protect Czech villages against the impacts of mining.

Despite intensive negotiations between Czech and Polish representatives in recent months, conditions drafted by Czechia appeared to be unacceptable for Poland. Negotiations will continue in the following days via phone call.

On Monday, Poland was asked by the European Commission to pay a €25 million fine for breaching the ECJ’s preliminary measure. If Poland refuses to pay the fine, the Commission will cut the respective sum from the EU subsidies allocated to Poland.

The penalty for not obeying the EU Court ruling increases every day at a rate of €500,000, a sum imposed by the court.

(Aneta Zachová | EURACTIV.cz)

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