EU steals millions from Poland for coal mine



WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The European Union is beginning the process of deducting millions of euros from payments to Poland to cover fines imposed on Warsaw for ignoring a court order to shut down a coal mine, said a manager on Wednesday.

The European Court of Justice ruled last year that Poland must close the open-cast lignite mine in Turow, near the border with the Czech Republic. In his injunction, he ruled in favor of the Czech government, which complained that the open-pit mine drains groundwater from villages on the Czech side of their border, while also causing dust and noise pollution.

The court ordered Poland to pay a daily fine of 500,000 euros ($567,000) as long as it continues to operate the mine.

The Polish government, however, refused to close the mine, saying it was crucial to providing jobs and energy to the country. He argued that the EU tribunal had no power to impose the fine.

European Commission spokesman Balazs Ujvari told a press conference in Brussels on Wednesday that the deadline expired on Tuesday for Poland’s first payment and the Commission is now starting its “compensation procedure”.

The first payment is 15 million euros ($17 million) plus 30,000 euros in interest.

“What the Commission needs to do now is identify an appropriate or proper payment against which compensation can be made,” Ujvari said.

Once this is done, the Commission will inform the Polish authorities and give them at least 10 working days to comment.

“And thereafter, the Commission will deduct the relevant amount from the identified payment,” he added.

The Polish and Czech governments held talks seeking a solution to the problem, but still failed to reach a settlement.

Last month, a new Polish ambassador to Prague was recalled after criticizing his own country’s approach to the conflict, alleging there had been arrogance and a “lack of empathy” on the Polish side.


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