The European Commission partially agrees with Czechia in the Turów mine dispute

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On Thursday, the European Commission partially agreed that the Czech Republic is in the right in a dispute with Poland over the planned expansion of mining at the Turów lignite mine near the Czech border. The Commission has concluded that Poland incorrectly assessed the impact of the mine on the environment and insufficiently informed neighboring states about its intentions.
At the end of September, Prague approached Brussels with an objection, stating that Poland had violated its obligations under four EU directives and the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU when extending mining at the site.
The Commission concluded that Warsaw had erred in applying the directives regarding the environmental impact assessment and access to information.
Poland also made a mistake, as Polish authorities decided on the future of the mine based on old laws, which were not fully in line with EU law.
According to the EC, the Czech complaints about the violation of the other two directives, concerning, among other things, the impact on drinking water supplies, are unfounded based on the submitted evidence and arguments of both parties.
The Polish Turów mine supplies coal mainly to the neighboring power plant; the PGE Capital Group, which owns the mine and the power plant, wants to mine there until 2044.
Despite the objections of neighbors, the Polish Climate and Environment Ministry extended the company’s mining concession for six years in March this year, which would have otherwise ended in April. The mine would also expand to 30 square kilometers, and the Poles plan to mine to a depth of 330 meters. The planned expansion is mainly hindered by the inhabitants of the border areas of the Liberec Region in the Czech Republic. People are afraid of increased noise and dust and, especially, loss of water sources.
The current bilateral negotiations between the Czech Republic and Poland have not resolved the dispute. However, the Czech Republic can now use the legally non-binding opinion of the Commission in a possible lawsuit at the European Court of Justice.
In its complaint to the European Commission, the Czech Republic stated that Poland had repeatedly refused to provide information on the mining permit issued for six years and did not allow the Czech Republic to participate in the procedure of granting the mining permit.
Czech authorities have not yet commented on whether they will file a lawsuit or continue to seek an out-of-court settlement with Poland.
Title image: Smoke rises from chimneys of the Turów power plant located by the Turów lignite coal mine near the town of Bogatynia, Poland, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. The mine impacts the environment and communities near the border of three neighboring countries, the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland. Plans to further expand the huge open-pit mine have caused alarm among residents who fear things might get even worse. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

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