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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

Poland can afford to defend contentious mine: gov’t spokesman

14.01.2022 08:30
The Polish government spokesman has said that Warsaw is prepared to bear the cost of defending its disputed Turów lignite mine, after the European Commission urged Warsaw to pay its fines over the continued operation of the site, the state PAP news agency has reported. 
The Turów lignite mine in southwestern Poland.
The Turów lignite mine in southwestern Poland.Photo: PAP/Maciej Kulczyński

Piotr Müller told reporters on Thursday that Poland “disagrees in principle” with the verdict by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to fine Poland over Turów because the ruling “oversteps the powers of the European Union.”

Last September, the CJEU said that Poland must pay a EUR 500,000 daily fine to the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, for defying an earlier order to halt operations at Turów, which is located near the border with the Czech Republic. 

The court had sided with the Czech government in ruling that the mine was damaging the environment.

On Thursday, a spokesman for the European Commission, Balazs Ujvari, told a news conference that Brussels had sent Poland two reminders about the fines, and had not received the money so far.

Ujvari added that, in line with the procedure, if the fines were not paid, the relevant amount would be deducted from the funds Poland is due from EU coffers, the PAP news agency reported.  

The Polish government’s spokesman commented that “if the European Commission eventually decides to subtract this money from the funds transferred to the Polish budget, which in our opinion would violate EU law, then of course it can do that.”

“However, what matters the most for us is the energy security of the Polish people,” he said.

He added that “the government can afford to bear the cost of protecting Polish families” against a scenario where “power would be cut off for several million people,” PAP reported.

The Czech offer

Meanwhile, the Czech Republic’s new Environment Minister Anna Hubáčková said on Thursday she was willing to speak to Poland next week to overcome the dispute over Turów, the Reuters news agency reported.

"I am prepared to go to Poland, to Warsaw, with an offer of an agreement, or signed contract, or for talks for closing a deal," Hubáčková told reporters, as quoted by Reuters. 

Part of the state-controlled PGE group, the Turów open-cast lignite mine and the adjacent power plant near the Czech border are a key power source in Poland.

(pm/gs)

Source: PAP, Reuters