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24 May, 2021 15:47

Polish mine will not be closed, PM vows after EU court order to cease coal extraction amid Czech dispute

Polish mine will not be closed, PM vows after EU court order to cease coal extraction amid Czech dispute

Poland will not shut down a mine near the Czech border, despite an order from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to cease brown coal extraction immediately, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has said.

In February, the Czech Republic took legal action against Poland over its Turow open-cast lignite mine, which also sits near the German border, claiming it threatened the drinking water supply of its citizens.

In a preliminary injunction on Friday, the CJEU said the Polish government had infringed EU law by granting a six-year extension for the mine without conducting an environmental impact assessment.

Morawiecki hit back at the claims on Monday, branding the CJEU’s ruling “very dangerous” for Poland’s energy security and for the livelihoods of the 5,000 people employed at Turow.

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Unlike neighboring Germany, Poland still relies on coal as a major form of power, with the fossil fuel making up around 70% of its total energy production.

In a bid to resolve the situation, Morawiecki also announced that the installation of an anti-filtration screen in Turow to protect the water table in the Czech Republic will be brought forward.

The completion of the special screen had been slated for 2023, but it will now be finished in September this year due to faster construction by the mine’s operator, Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE), the PM said.

Morawiecki also said that he will travel to Brussels to hold talks over the mine with his Czech counterpart, Andrej Babis.

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The Polish PM added that his government “cannot ignore” the situation and would present new arguments, including on the progress of the screen, to the CJEU within the next two weeks.

In its ruling on Friday, the CJEU said that the Polish climate minister’s granting of a six-year extension to the mine was a breach of EU law, as it had been done without carrying out an environmental impact assessment. Pending a full judgement on the Czech Republic’s complaints, the court ordered the Polish authorities “immediately to cease lignite extraction activities” in Turow.

In a statement, the Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek described the ruling as “great news.”

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