The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ordered Poland to suspend activities at the Turów lignite mine, which is connected to up to 7 percent of Poland’s electric energy production.
On Friday, the CJEU ruled in favor of Czechia and ordered Poland to immediately shut down the mine until a “substantive decision” was made.
The Turów mine and power plant belong to the PGE Mining and Conventional Energy company, which is part of the PGE Polish Energy Group. In 2020, the Polish Minister of Climate and Environment Michał Kurtyka extended the mine’s concession to extract coal for six more years, until 2026.
At the end of February, Czechia filed a complaint against Poland to the CJEU concerning the expansion of the Turów mine. It also requested the use of so-called temporary measures to suspend extraction.
Czech Minister for the Environment Richard Brabec had explained that the lawsuit was necessary to protect Czech citizens because Poland, in his opinion, had not fulfilled Prague’s postulates concerning environmental protection. Brabec also stated that talks with Poland will continue, but Czechia considers the mining in Turów to be illegal.
The vice president of the CJEU, Rosario Silva de Lapuerta, explained the court’s ruling by stating that temporary measures can only be ordered when it has been proven that their implementation is legally and factually justified and also when their imposition is necessary to avoid serious and irreversible damage to the interests of the complainant.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki criticized the ruling and emphasized the importance of the Turów mine to the well-being of millions of Poles.
“Up to 4 to 7 percent of Poland’s electric energy production is connected to the Turów mine. The functioning of Polish households, schools, hospitals and companies depends on its stability. Its stable functioning also has an impact on the security, health and lives of millions of Polish citizens. The ordinary life of our country’s citizens depends on the mine,” he stated.
The PM declared that the CJEU’s decisions cannot infringe on areas associated with the basic security of member states, such as energy security. He underlined that the court’s decision was unprecedented and contradicted the basic principles of the functioning of the EU, plus the action taken was disproportionate.
Morawiecki stressed that the government will not undertake any action that could harm Polish energy security.
The CEO of PGE Wojciech Dąbrowski, meanwhile, pointed out that the Turów lignite mine has a legal concession based on which it will continue its extraction.
“The CJEU’s ruling is a path toward wild energy transformation. We are dealing with the first real test of the European Green Deal, which was meant to be based on solidarity and just energy transformation, not a program to support unfair competition,” he said.
The CEO also pointed to a very important fact: Just a few dozen kilometers away from Turów and even a few hundred meters away from the Polish border, there are nine other coal mines currently functioning — five in Czechia and four in Germany.
“Meanwhile, the EU is permitting them to operate despite their much bigger impact on the environment. PGE does not accept the unfair treatment of economic activity depending on the nationality of companies. Turów’s example shows that the energy and lignite interests of other countries are to be developed at the expense of the Polish energy complex,” Dąbrowski stated.