The Czech Republic and Poland have reached an agreement on the controversial Polish lignite mine that pollutes the groundwater and thus the drinking water of many Czechs.
Poland will remove a barrier to prevent the neighbouring country from being affected, and the Czech Republic is withdrawing a case about the mine from the European Court of Justice. Warsaw pays 45 million euros in damages, 5 million less than the Czech Republic had previously requested.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki signed the agreement in Prague with his Czech counterpart Petr Fiala. According to the latter, the agreement has benefits for the local population. According to Fiala, if polluted water does end up in the Czech Republic after the barrier has been completed, the mine must be closed. Morawiecki spoke of a new chapter in the relationship with the Czech Republic.
The new Czech environment minister Anna Hubackova indicated last month that a deal on the Turow mine is within reach. Talks under the previous government had broken down.
The European Court of Justice ruled in a preliminary ruling that the mine should have been shut down in May. That case is being dropped as part of the deal. The court ruled in September that Poland must pay half a million euros for each day the mine remains in operation.
The government in Warsaw refuses to close the mine, partly because of energy supplies and employment and also does not want to pay the “disproportionate and unjustified” fine. The European Commission has announced that it will withhold the amount of millions owed from EU subsidies for Poland. Morawiecki said the retraction of the case had resolved this issue.
Poland extended the mine’s operating license for another six years in 2020. However, the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice ruled on Thursday that this is contrary to European law, partly because no reporting was made on the effects on the environment.