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Smoke rises from chimneys of the Turow power plant
Smoke rises from chimneys of the Turow power plantImage: Petr David Josek/AP/picture alliance

Polish, Czech governments sign deal on contested mine

February 4, 2022

The prime ministers of Poland and the Czech Republic have reached an agreement to end a bitter battle over the Turow coal mine.

https://p.dw.com/p/46V8p

The leaders of the Czech Republic and Poland have signed a deal to end a lengthy dispute over a lignite or brown coal mine situated on the Polish side of the border between the two nations.

The agreement — which was signed in Prague on Thursday by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and his Czech counterpart Petr Fiala — seeks to end a one-of-a-kind legal tussle between the European Union members, which had strained their ties.

Morawiecki said the agreement means that Poland's Turow open-pit mine and the adjacent Turow power plant — which is fueled by the mine — will continue to operate without any hurdles.

EU battle

The Czech Republic had taken the issue to the European Court of Justice last year, saying that Poland had ignored its protests and the mine was draining underground water from Czech villages, making excessive noise and causing other environmental damage.

Last May, the EU top court had ordered Warsaw to cease mining pending its ruling, and later in September levied a daily fine of €500,000 (roughly $570,000) for failing to do so.

"This deal undoubtedly brings advantages and benefits and results to communities affected [by Turow]," Czech Prime Minister said at a joint press conference with Morawiecki.

Displacement through mining

As part of Thursday's deal, Prague will withdraw the legal complaint in return for compensation of €45 million for infrastructure upgrades and other environmental protections and pledges.

Fiala said his country received guarantees that an underground barrier under construction would safeguard water sources.

Oversight on the deal would last five years, he added.

Environmental groups such as Greenpeace expressed doubt over the planned barrier's efficacy, however.

Fines on Poland to continue 

Meanwhile, the European Commission said on Thursday that the daily fines would continue to mount until the Czech Republic withdraws its case.

Spokesman Adalbert Jahnz said that "any penalties that are due up until that date would remain due.''

The EU's executive said it has not received any money from Warsaw despite four calls for payment.

Czech leader Fiala said the case would be withdrawn as soon as Poland pays the compensation.

Poland also sought an end to a separate legal dispute with the EU on Thursday that is subject to similar rolling daily financial penalties, announcing plans to dissolve a contentious disciplinary panel for Supreme Court judges.

dvv/msh (AP, Reuters)

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