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Despite the massive penalty imposed by the CJEU on Monday, Poland will not stop extracting coal at the state-controlled brown coal mine located near the Czech and German border. Prime Minister Morawiecki described the CJEU ruling as "extremely aggressive and harmful" and blamed the crisis on the Czech Republic.
The financial sanctions are a response to Poland's refusal to comply with the CJEU’s May 21 order telling the Polish government to immediately suspend all extraction activities at the brown coal mine in Turów until the court reviews a complaint filed by the Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic initiated the lawsuit because, in its view, the mining violates EU law and creates an environmental hazard. Prague also argues that the coal mine has been operating illegally for over a year, as the Polish government unlawfully extended its license until 2026.
It is the first-ever complaint brought against Poland by another EU member state.
Playing the blame game
Since mid-June, Poland and the Czech Republic have been involved in negotiations trying to reach a compromise on this matter. According to the Polish side, "the Czechs showed a complete lack of good will". - The Czech government is not interested in ending the dispute because of the upcoming parliamentary elections- the Polish Prime Minister said.
He also announced that Poland will "use all legal means" to prove that the imposed penalty is disproportionate.
The CJEU’s decision, however, cannot be appealed. The Vice-President of the CJEU, Rosario Silva de Lapuerta, ordered the penalty to be ten times lower than what the Czech government initially requested. Thus, Poland will have to pay half a million euros for each additional day until it complies with the CJEU's May ruling and decides to suspend the extraction at the mine.
The fine is to be calculated from the moment the CJEU’s decision formally reaches the Polish government (it has already been sent via email). Should the Polish government refuse to pay the fine, Brussels may deduct the money from EU funds intended for Poland.
PiS: „the CJEU order is inhumane"
On Monday, when the CJEU announced its decision, the Polish government issued a press release saying that despite the penalty, Poland will not stop extracting coal at the open-pit mine.
Prime Minister Morawiecki remained silent, as did Jacek Sasin, the Minister of State Assets supposed to be co-responsible for working out a compromise with the Czech side.
Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Justice Marcin Romanowski commented on the CJEU’s decision on Twitter: "[this] is not even blackmailing, it's judicial robbery and theft in broad daylight. You won't get a single cent from us". Anna Zalewska, a Law and Justice party MEP, described the ruling as "entirely political, inhumane, and aggressive".
The opposition, in turn, recalled the statements of ruling camp politicians from just a few months ago. Back in May, Prime Minister Morawiecki assured the public that "an agreement with the Czech Republic is at hand".
- Prime Minister Morawiecki and Deputy Prime Minister Sasin are single-handedly responsible for the penalty. They were the ones who assured us that the matter was settled- said Borys Budka, deputy chairman of the oppositional Civic Platform party. The opposition will demand a detailed explanation from the Prime Minister.
The Czech Republic is willing to negotiate
Quoted by euractiv.com, the Czech Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment Richard Brabec said that the Czech Republic is willing to reach an agreement with Poland, but Poland should first take "concrete steps". These include the creation of drinking water intakes for the local Czech population affected by the mining, and the right to conduct inspections at the disputed mine.
The first hearing of the Czech complaint by the CJEU is scheduled to take place on November 9.
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