07 December 2020
Sprawling Polish coal mine fuels escalating tension at heart of EU
BRUSSELS, 7 December 2020 – European Green Parliamentarians have told the European Commission that if talks between Poland and the Czech Republic over Poland’s sprawling Turów coal mine fail, the Commission should issue a “reasoned opinion” on whether Turów places Poland in breach of EU law, potentially smoothing the path for the Czech government to take the case to the EU Court of Justice.
The European Commission has previously been made aware that the mine, which is owned by Polish state-owned utility PGE, has been operating illegally, after the Polish government extended its licence by six years in April 2020, despite failing to carry out a public consultation or an environmental impact assessment, which are required by EU law. European Greens yesterday passed a resolution  to call upon the European Commission to ensure that Turów fully complies with EU directives , and that all mining there is stopped until all the legal issues have been clarified. They also put forward a proposal to designate the region a cross-border coal exit zone, supported by EU funds, such as the Just Transition Fund.
“The Czech Republic is losing the equivalent of 100 trucks of water per day because of the Turów mine – three times the amount that villages in the region require for their everyday lives. It goes without saying that this is unsustainable and entirely unjust,” said Zala Primc, campaigner at Europe Beyond Coal. “The rights of local people are being sidelined in favour of a coal company that believes it is beyond reproach. The European Commission needs to stop sitting on its hands, and urgently issue a reasoned opinion if the negotiations between Poland and the Czech Republic fail.”
Numerous efforts have been made so far to rouse the European Commission into action, including interventions by Members of the European Parliament , a call for action by the mayor of the German city Zittau , petitions by affected citizens , studies highlighting the negative impacts the mine is having on the wider region , and a formal complaint by the Czech city Liberec. The International Commission for the Protection of the Odra River from Pollution (ICPO), which consists of Polish, German and Czech delegates, has also become involved in the Turów case, classifying the mine as a “supra-regionally significant problem” that requires coordinated action between the three countries .
Zala Primc, Campaigner, Europe Beyond Coal (English, Slovene)
[email protected], + 386 (0) 40 981 828
Alastair Clewer, Communications Officer, Europe Beyond Coal
[email protected], +49 176 433 07 185
- The expansion of the Turów mine is incompatible with the Water Framework Directive (WFD), as it would cause inadmissible deterioration of water bodies, as well as the Environmental Liability Directive, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive and the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Directive. Current permit conditions are breaching the progressive mercury phase out obligation set under the WFD and are not aligned to BAT (1µg/Nm³for emissions to air) on source control requirements for the largest emission source set in the Minamata Convention and EU LCP BREF.
- Joint Statement from civil society groups and Members of European Parliament to the European Commission: Europe and Poland must stop Turów’s negative impacts and bring water and climate justice: https://bit.ly/2G6FH2H
- Expert report on the cross-border effects of the continuation of lignite mining in Turów (Poland) on water in Germany, Dr. habil. Ralf E. Krupp, 2020. Commissioned by Greenpeace Germany and Frank Bold Society.
Europe Beyond Coal is an alliance of civil society groups working to catalyse the closures of coal mines and power plants, prevent the building of any new coal projects and hasten the just transition to clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Our groups are devoting their time, energy and resources to this independent campaign to make Europe coal free by 2030 or sooner. www.beyond-coal.eu