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Czech Republic asks for daily fine of €5 million against Poland over coal mine dispute

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Prague, Czech Republic – The Czech Republic will ask the EU’s top court to impose a fine of €5 million per day to Poland for refusing to halt operations at the Turow brown coal mine.

The government announced on Monday that Environment and Foreign Affairs Ministers Richard Brabec and Jakub Kulhanek will be charged with leading the intergovernmental negotiations with Poland to resolve the dispute opposing the two neighbours.

In the meantime, the cabinet of Prime Minister Andrej Babis has also ordered its representative before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to propose a fine of €5 million for every day Poland does not halt mining operations at the border mine.

“The lawsuit should be filed in the coming days,” Environment Minister Brabec said, adding that this penalty would only be part of the deal through which the Czech Republic would seek compensation from Poland.

According to the latest statements, the Czech government will, on top of financial compensation for the damages caused by the mine, ask Poland for clear information on measures to be taken to mitigate its environmental impact, as well as enforceable deadlines to respect.

In February, the Czech Republic filed a lawsuit against Poland at the EU’s top court against the planned expansion of the Turow mine, operated by state-owned PGE group and located close to the border. According to the Czech side, the mine operates to the prejudice of inhabitants of the nearby Liberec region, and negatively impacts drinking water quality, soil erosion and air pollution.

Last month, the CJEU issued an injunction for Poland to immediately halt operations at the Turow mine pending its final decision on the case.

Warsaw has so far refused to comply with the court order, with government officials publicly slamming the CJEU’s decision as unfounded, disproportionate and harmful to Poland’s interests. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s recent claim to have reached an agreement with the Czech Republic was for its part immediately denied by M. Babis.

“The decision […] was issued after a thorough analysis and as long as it exists, it must be enforceable, it cannot be challenged,” warned Marek Safjan, the Polish judge at the CJEU, echoing growing concerns over Poland’s refusal to comply with the court ruling.

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