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The government today approved a mandate to start negotiations with Poland on Turów

 

The dispute over the Turów mine is headed for the negotiating table. After the Court of Justice of the EU ordered the immediate suspension of operations at the Turów mine a few weeks ago, Poland began negotiating with the Czech Republic on the conditions for a possible withdrawal of the lawsuit. The Czech Republic filed a lawsuit with the Court of Justice of the EU against the Republic of Poland in February this year. Czechia accuses Poland of failing to comply with EU legislation in permitting the expansion of the mine, excluding the public from permitting processes and refusing to provide information on the effects of the mine. The lawsuit also included a request to suspend coal mining at the mine until the Court of Justice of the EU makes a ruling.

Based on the preparatory meeting that took place in Liberec in the last week of May with representatives of the Ministries of Environment and Foreign Affairs and regional governor Martin Půta and at which Poland expressed readiness to negotiate the conditions for withdrawing the Czech Republic's lawsuit against it, the Czech Government today approved a framework for an intergovernmental agreement, under which the Czech Republic could withdraw its lawsuit against Poland.  "It includes, among other things, a review of existing permitting processes in accordance with European law and the provision of all available information on the effects of the mining, which is the essence of the current lawsuit against Poland, but also the payment of costs to build new and strengthen existing drinking water sources on the Czech side of the border," Environment Minister Richard Brabec said about today's decision of the Government of the Czech Republic. "These are the key requirements of the Czech Republic."

"A lawsuit brought by the Czech Republic before the Court of Justice may be directed only against an infringement of EU law by Poland," says Martin Smolek, Government Plenipotentiary for Representation of the Czech Republic before the Court of Justice of the EU and Deputy Foreign Minister. "The result of such a lawsuit can only be a determination of whether or not Poland has infringed EU law. On the other hand, the Czech Republic cannot seek the permanent closure of the Turów mine in proceedings before the court, as is sometimes misinterpreted. However, the order for the immediate closure of the Turów mine, pending a judgment on the merits, created room to obtain a truly practical, tangible result for the population of the affected region and its environment in a short time."

Therefore, once Poland is ready to negotiate constructively, it is in the interest of the Czech Republic to agree on Polish commitments for specific measures and to reimburse the costs of measures taken to mitigate the impact of the negative effects of the Turów mine on Czech territory and to avoid future negative effects.

The amount of EUR 40 to 50 million, which the Czech Republic is ready to apply for under an intergovernmental agreement, is primarily the cost of building replacement water mains in the Frýdlant and Hrádek regions and strengthening the Uhelná water source and is based on estimates by the Liberec Region.

"We are in a situation where the Court of Justice of the EU has ruled in favour of the Czech Republic, found a violation of European law and the Polish side is finally willing to act," Martin Půta, Governor of the Liberec Region, said about the decision. "I believe that a mutually acceptable agreement will be reached, which on the one hand will protect the population and the area affected by the mining and, on the other, take into consideration that the mine cannot be closed overnight."

The agreement between the Czech Republic and Poland should contain clear deadlines for fulfilling specific obligations, including sanctions for non-compliance. Any disputes arising from this agreement should be settled by the Court of Justice of the EU, which should guarantee the enforceability of the contractual obligations.

"We now have a mandate to start negotiations with Poland," Vladislav Smrž, Deputy Minister of the Environment, commented. "At the moment, it is not possible to estimate how long it will take to negotiate a detailed text of the intergovernmental agreement with Poland, but there is interest on both sides for it to be as soon as possible. Experts from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and the Environment will work on it, and everything will take place with the participation of representatives of the Liberec Region."

At its hearing today, the government also agreed to apply to the Court of Justice of the EU to impose a daily penalty of EUR 5 million on Poland for non-compliance with the ordered interim measure, i.e. for continuing to operate the Turów mine contrary to the court's decision of 21 May 2021.

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