Poland says it doesn’t care about European sanctions to close lignite mine

Poland says it doesn't care about European sanctions to close lignite mine

Turów lignite mine, with a power plant in the background.Environmental Protection Agency’s photo

Immediately after the court ruled in favor of the Czech Republic, which brought the case, Warsaw reacted negatively. According to the government, the mine will not be closed. The punishment was called “disproportionate”. The ruling would also frustrate talks with the Czech government to find a compromise over the Toro mine.

With this, Poland is heading towards another conflict with the European Union. The European Commission, which has been concerned about the rule of law in Poland for years, asked the court earlier this month to impose a penalty on Warsaw in another matter. With this fine, Brussels wants the government to dismantle a disciplinary chamber against critical judges. As in the case of the lignite mine in Toro, the judges ruled against Poland in this case as well. The fine in this dispute can reach about one hundred thousand euros per day.

Although the Czech Republic had demanded a much higher fine of five million euros per day, the ruling in the Turów case is another victory for Prague. The lignite mine has been a thorn in the side of the Czech government for years. The Czechs want to close the mine immediately because lignite mining would be harmful to the groundwater level and polluting. Neighbors also complained about noise pollution.

‘Disaster’

The court ruled in favor of the Czech Republic early this summer. The judges then ruled to close the mine immediately. But Poland did not pay attention to this statement. Consultations were then held with the Czech government, but this did not lead to anything.

According to Poland, the closure of the mine will have serious consequences. Prime Minister Morawiecki spoke of a “disaster”, especially with regard to employment. About 60,000 jobs could be lost. The shutdown also has consequences for the energy supply. Lignite mining at Turów accounts for 3 percent of Poland’s electricity.

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