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Polish-Czech dispute over Turów mine close to resolution

Polish and Czech negotiators have reached an agreement regarding the Turów lignite mine, whose closure the Czechs have demanded on environmental grounds, bringing a complaint to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), the Polish Press Agency (PAP) learnt from unofficial sources. However, the Polish government’s spokesperson said that the agreement still needs to be approved.

The Wednesday accord was passed by the Polish government on the same day, however, the source declined to name any details of the agreement.

The Polish negotiation team was headed by Climate and Environment Minister Anna Moskwa.

Still a long way to go

However, according to government spokesman Piotr Müller “It is not possible to talk about an agreement yet at this moment. Everything depends on further talks.”

He added that Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki went to Prague on Thursday to discuss the Turów mine issue with his Czech counterpart Petr Fiala.

“We are flying to the last round of negotiations. It will be directly discussed by the prime ministers of both countries, as the issue has a political dimension and needs to be politically agreed on,” the source conveyed.

Agreement on Turów mine might be announced on Thursday. Photo: PAP arch./Aleksander Koźmiński

The origins of the dispute

Polish-Czech talks over the Turów lignite mine began in June 2021 after the Czech side filed a complaint against Poland to the CJEU over the expansion of the mine. At the same time, Prague demanded a halt to mining at the mine as a so-called interim measure. The Czech side believes that the mine’s expansion threatens the access to water for residents of Liberec region in the Czech Republic; they also complain about noise and dust associated with the mine’s operations.

On September 20, 2021, The CJEU fined Poland EUR 500,000 per day for failing to implement the interim measure and not stopping lignite mining at the mine. The Polish government declares that it does not intend to pay the penalty.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala has previously declared that reaching an agreement with Poland would result in his country withdrawing its complaint from the CJEU.

Opinion of the Advocate General of the CJEU

On February 3, the Advocate General of the CJEU gave the opinion that by extending the duration of concession for lignite mining in the Turów coal mine, by six years, without carrying out an environmental impact assessment, Poland has infringed EU law.

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