EU court slaps daily fine on Poland for not closing mine
Published: Sep 21, 2021 05:12 PM
The European Union flags in front of EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. Photo: Xinhua

The European Union flags in front of EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. Photo: Xinhua

The EU's top court on Monday ordered Poland to pay Brussels a daily fine of 500,000 euros ($586,000) for failing to shut a massive coal mine that angered neighboring Czech Republic. 

Warsaw was told by the court in May to suspend extraction of lignite, a low-quality brown coal, at the Turow open-cast mine after a complaint by Prague that it created a cross-border environmental hazard and breached EU law. 

But the Polish government refused to comply, arguing it would put the country's energy security "at risk" as the mine fuels a power station providing around 7 percent of its electricity. 

Following Monday's ruling, government spokesman Piotr Muller insisted Warsaw would not close the KWB Turow mine. Any closure would have "negative consequences for energy security for millions of Poles and for the entire EU," he added.

In June, Prague asked the European Union's Court of Justice to fine Poland 5 million euros ($5.9 million) per day for failing to halt production at the mine. 

The governments of both countries also started official talks on the situation, vowing to strike a deal. Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhanek hailed the verdict, saying Prague was ready to continue negotiations. "The main goal remains the same, access to drinking water on the Czech side must not be jeopardized," he tweeted.

The Europe Beyond Coal campaign urged Poland to come up with a plan to halt coal mining.

"It needs to plan a fair closure of Turow, and the rest of its coal industry, by 2030 at the latest," campaigner Zala Primc said in a statement.

Poland relies on coal to meet up to 80 percent of its energy needs, but has vowed to develop green energy sources and to shut its last mine by 2049, in line with targets for emissions cuts set by the European Union.