Poland PM defiant after EU imposes fine over coal mine
September 21, 2021
The EU's Court of Justice has ordered Poland to pay a daily fine of €500,000 for keeping the Turow coal mine open. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has refused to comply with the order.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki was defiant on Tuesday after a top EU court demanded his country shut down a mine near the Czech border.
"We are not going to turn off Turow, it would deprive millions of Polish families of electricity," Morawiecki said during a media briefing, according to the Polish Press Agency.
The European Court of Justice slapped Poland with a €500,000 ($586,000) daily fine on Monday in response to the country's refusal to shut down the Turow open-cast lignite mine.
The Czech Republic took the case to court over complaints that the mine is causing cross-border environmental hazards, especially as it concerns air and water quality.
Why did the court issue a daily fine?
In May, the EU's top court told Poland to shut down the mine, though Poland has refused to comply. In June, Prague asked the EU's top court to fine Poland €5 million ($5.9 million) per day for failing to halt production at the mine.
Though the daily fine ordered by the court is considerably less, Prague still eyes the verdict as leverage in bilateral negotiations over the matter, which are ongoing.
The daily fine will continue to accrue until the mine is shut.
Despite the ruling, Poland said it stands by its decision to keep the mine open.
"Suspending work at the Turow mine would threaten the stability of the Polish power system," Polish government spokesperson Piotr Muller said.
By contrast, Jakub Kulhanek, the Czech foreign minister, hailed the verdict, tweeting: "The main goal remains the same — access to drinking water on the Czech side must not be jeopardized."
Poland will not close Turow, citing 'energy security'
Poland argues closing the Turow mine would endanger the country's energy security.
The mine, which has been operating since 1904, fuels a power station that provides around 7% of electricity. Turow also employs 4,000 people.
Poland defies EU court coal ruling
Germany and the Czech Republic have both complained about an increase in noise and dust brought about by the plant's expansion, though Poland argues both countries have their own lignite mines near their borders with Poland.