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European Commission sides with citizens in landmark cross-border anti-coal court case

The European Commission will join the Czech Republic in the legal dispute against Poland concerning the controversial Turów mine [1], which is depleting water resources and endangering houses across the Czech and German borders in breach of EU laws [2]. The European Environmental Bureau applauds the Commission’s intervention in the watershed Turów case.

Riccardo Nigro, Campaign Coordinator for coal combustion and mines at the EEB, said: “This is a major breakthrough. We welcome the Commission’s decision to stand up for the rule of law and for the basic rights of the communities that have been losing their water and homes to the Turów mine. The game is up: mining operations must immediately cease in Turów, and the Polish government should get serious about moving beyond coal and securing a just transition for coal communities”.

The court case was triggered by the Czech government in response to Poland’s decision to grant Turów a licence extension to 2026, and mine operator PGE’s request for a further licence extension to 2044, which was approved by the Polish government, despite the absence of a proper public consultation or environmental impact assessment as required by EU law. The mine has been operating illegally for over a year [3].

Back in May, the European Court of Justice ordered Poland to halt mining operations in Turów while the court processes the lawsuit, a ruling which the Polish government refused to enforce. The situation escalated last Monday afternoon when the Czech Republic requested the Court fine Poland €5 million euros a day for refusing to close the mine [4].

NOTES TO THE EDITOR

[1] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-czech-poland-turow/european-commission-joins-czech-case-against-polands-turow-coal-mine-idUSKCN2DL1Y2

[2] Located in Poland’s Bogatynia region, at the border with the Czech Republic and Germany, the mine is endangering access to water for thousands of families on the Czech side, and causing subsidence that could damage houses around the German city of Zittau. https://meta.eeb.org/2020/10/15/save-our-homes-from-caving-in-town-threatened-by-coal-mine-urges-the-eu/

[3] https://eeb.org/one-year-of-european-commission-inaction-on-the-illegal-turow-coal-mine/

[4]https://beyond-coal.eu/2021/06/08/european-commission-urged-to-join-turow-mine-court-case-to-protect-rule-of-law/