Poland is playing for its face (and EU money) in the Turów coal mine: the Court of Justice requires closure, Warsaw resists

He became a case diplomatic, but the mine of Turow, a few kilometers from the border between Poland, Germany e Republic Czech, in the so-called black triangle, is also a test case for Warsaw. In recent days the EU Court of Justice established that Poland among the top producers of carbone in the European Union, the mining of lignite in the mine which for years has been at the center of a dispute with Prague. But the Polish government does not seem willing to accept it willingly. The Deputy Prime Minister Jacek Sasin explained that the closure of the mine “could have catastrophic consequences for society and for the country’s energy security”, while the premier Mateusz Morawiecki announced that negotiations with the Czech Republic will begin, but that “other arguments will be presented for the EU Court of Justice to change its decision“. And, before leaving for Brussels to meet the Czech Prime Minister, he stressed that the case was raised a few months after political elections which will be held in October in the Czech Republic. But the truth is that the mine’s Turow it is an old story, which risks exploding at the least opportune moment for Poland.

THAT SLICE OF THE RIGHT TRANSITION FUND – Because Warsaw managed to get the biggest share of the fund for the just transition (2 billion euros), establishing more than one stake. Starting from the date of the stop to the mines: according to the agreement recently signed by Polish government and by the mining workers’ unions the last mine will have to close by 2049, a date that clashes with the 2021 climate objectives. In the end Morawiecki took home what he wanted, putting his foot down and claiming that Poland “still has too much employee from coal ”should have been supported in its complex transition. On the other hand, in his speech by settlement, in December 2017, the premier had said that he did not intend to abandon the carbone “At the base of our energy”.

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THE MINE OF DISCORD – Warsaw has thus continued for years to announce the opening of new mines and the increase in power for its power plants. An example of this is the mine of Turow, which has been in operation for over a century and since the 1960s has also fed the adjacent power plant in production of energy. Power plant and mine are located in Bogatynia, in Lower Silesia shaped by coal, at the foot of the mountain range of the gods Sudeti. In practice, in the middle of the houses. But this has never stopped the activity, through which 7.5 million tons of lignite are extracted annually. More could the interest of Prague. Why the mine it is also located on the border with Germany and the Czech Republic and over the years has dried up the water tables of Frýdlant, a Czech town that thrives on tourism and livestock, causing damage to 30,000 people. Tankers are now needed in the summer. Here the municipalities fought together against the Polish state energy group PGE and a dispute arose.

THE LITIGATION – The mining concession expired in 2020, but the company (which plans a new 496 MW unit in the nearby power station) had asked for a extension until 2044. In 2020, Poland extended the mining permit for six years lignite, without any environmental impact assessment. The Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček he asked for clarification in vain, before turning to the EU Commission which, in turn, supported Prague’s position. For Brussels, Poland is violating the EU directive on the evaluation ofenvironmental impact, which requires cross-border consultation. Negotiations that took place failed a Warsaw, in February the latest move by the Czech Republic, which appealed to the EU Court of Justice, asking to suspend activities immediately. For the first time in EU history, one state has sued another for reasons environmental, bringing it in front of the EU Court of Justice. The vice president of the Cut Ue, Rosario Silva de Lapuerta, upheld Prague’s request up to the ruling in the general case.

THE TEST BENCH – But this is not a matter between Warsaw and Prague. On 3 May the same Commission EU stated that the case of the Turów mine may lead to the exclusion of Lower Silesia from the ‘Just Transition Fund‘(7.5 billion from the multiannual financial framework, plus another 10 billion from the European instrument for recovery) approved a few days ago, definitively, by the EU Parliament. Poland believes that the closure of the mine can have a devastating social impact in region. And certainly employment is a theme, if i workers protested against the decision of the EU Court of Justice. The Deputy Prime Minister Jacek Sasin he recalled that the power plant produces 5% of the electricity needed for the Poland and provides electricity for the homes of 3.7 million of its own compatriots and that “the closure would cause the loss of jobs for the 3,500 workers of the energy complex”. But Warsaw is cornered.

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THE PLAN OF POLAND – The EU asks Poland to make a choice, perhaps even clearer than the contents put in black and white in the plan presented in recent months. A program that provides for the gradual closing of 13 mines between 2021 and 2049 to arrive already after 2043 to no longer be employees from coal and lignite, now a source of more than 70% of requirement energetic national (but also the cause of about 50 thousand premature deaths every year). A plan made up of lights and shadows and in which it is expected to produce 20-25% of requirement with at least 6 new nuclear sites, another 30% with natural gas plants and the rest with wind and photovoltaics, which are already growing rapidly. Something has already happened, such as the abandonment of the new coal plant project Ostrołęka C, which was supposed to come into operation in 2024 and which had also been at the center of the election campaign of the PiS party extreme right, in power today. It would have been larger than the Bełchatów power plant, the largest in Europe, but even more unsustainable economically, especially considering the possible causes for compensation for environmental damage. The Turów mine does not escape logic. There Poland she will have to understand (and quickly) if it will cost her the slice of funds she managed to get allocated.

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