On 9 December, a joint statement of representatives of the Czech authorities (Ministry of the Environment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Liberec Region) on the Polish response to the Czech requirements for expanding lignite mining in Turów lignite mine was published. The Czech Republic may file a lawsuit at the EU Court of Justice from January 1st.
Representatives of the Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic and the Liberec Region have unequivocally agreed that the Polish response to the Czech demands in the Turów case is "completely inadequate and unacceptable”.
Now the Czech side will inform both its Polish counterparts and the European Commission, which directly requested it. The Czech Republic expects the European Commission to comment on the submitted complaint pursuant to Article 259 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU by the end of the year. Based on the statement of the Commission and the course of negotiations so far, the government will then decide on further action in the whole matter.
– In today's meeting, the Polish side did not satisfy our demands regarding mining in the Turów mine. The situation could therefore continue with a lawsuit against Poland by the Czech side before the EU Court – confirmed to the journal "Deník N" Deputy Foreign Minister Martin Smolek.
In September, the Czech Republic submitted an initiative to the European Commission regarding the expansion of mining in Turów. This could be followed by a lawsuit after three months (ie. after 1 January), which must first be approved by the Czech government.
– It is time for the Polish government and the state-owned PGE to stop burying their heads in the sand. A decision to shorten the operation of the Turów complex is urgently needed. This will give a chance for a fair transformation of the region and a reduction of the impact on the environment and climate also in the neighbors – notes Radosław Gawlik, President of EKO-UNIA Ecological Association.
– Negotiations led by the European Commission gave Poland a chance to settle the dispute out of court. However, it seems that authorities did not take advantage of this opportunity. They should have done everything they could to prevent the case from going on like this – comments Tomasz Waśniewski, president of the Fundacja "Rozwój TAK- Odkrywki NIE". – Turów is not an internal Polish problem, although this is how the Polish authorities and PGE would like to see it. On the international arena, every day there are more and more votes against its destructive impact. This week alone, the European Greens adopted a resolution on the Turów mine and the European Commission received a letter signed by 40 non-governmental organizations from all over Europe.
There are many more activities related to the controversial opencast. On 24 November at the plenary meeting of the International Commission for the Protection of the Odra River against Pollution (ICPO) delegations from Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany agreed to include lignite mining, including the Turów mine, among the problems of supraregional importance. NGOs from Europe fought for such a course of action with the support of MEPs, MPs, deputies and local government officials.
On 9 November 2020 an joint statement was published in Poland: “Europe and Poland must stop Turów’s negative impacts and bring water and climate justice signed by 52 NGOs from Europe, 23 MEPs, 25 MPs from Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany, as well as local government officials and artists.
Photo by Wolfgang Domeyer